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Stella Atrium
Seven Beyond
Dr. Meenins is 800 years old and has traveled the stars to Earth to hide in an alien colony. Meenins explores a dreamscape of memories of his galactic travels, protected by friends. A quest novel and cautionary tale touching on themes of diversity and facing your guilty acts. This historical science fiction fantasy fable is for fans of books like Spellbreaker, The Lathe of Heaven, and Shades of Magic.
“And now we should have a story,” Lady Elizabeth Tasgneganz declares just pages into this heady, idea-rich science fiction novel from Atrium (author of the Dolvia Saga among other works.) Requesting a diversion to make a slog of a journey easier, she calls for “A fanciful tale that will transport us to another time. Full of simile and metaphor, a broad-shouldered allegory elastic enough to convey some great truth in our lives.” That finely wrought description both heralds and undersells the novel that follows, a consideration of a culture and its rituals and beliefs, touched with allegory and satire, in the vein of Ursula K. Le Guin, but also a vivid travelogue that anticipates (the first edition was published in 2002) the work of Sofia Samatar.

That’s not to say that this defiantly unclassifiable novel doesn’t abound with arresting stories. One turns on the murder of an imperial guardsman and such men’s conviction that young women’s bodies constitute “A precious resource … that begs to be mined before it deteriorates.” Another reveals a blood feud among the Longists, an alien specie, that only births 20 or so per decade. And there’s the beauty about the “pitiful, empty poverty” of life in a zoo on the planet Markturum-5.

The stories and storytellers of Seven Beyond draw from a host of Earthly traditions and cultures—the biblical, the mythic, the historic—while Atrium teases out, in prose of sparkling precision and wit, the curious overarching tale of 800 year-old Dr. David Christopher Meenins, on a tour that takes him and his retinue from an ancient monastery to a sheik’s yacht to New York City to the mysteries of “kka” and the Longist resting place of the dead. If that sounds mysterious, well, that’s how Atrium’s “fanciful tale” goes, charting the journeys, relationships, beliefs, and discoveries of these travelers through tales that reflect and challenge our own world and culture.

Takeaway: This bold S.F. travelogue offers stories within stories and mysteries within wonders.

Great for fans of: Sofia Samatar, Ursula K. Le Guin.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B