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CELESTIAL by M.D. Lachlan

1977.
THE SPACERACE IS FAR FROM OVER.

Ziggy Da Luca is a linguist recruited by NASA for reasons she can’t quite fathom. After seeing the video they’ve intercepted, it becomes clear her work is far more central to their plans than she realised.

Sent to the moon to investigate a hatch discovered by the Russians, Ziggy faces challenges she’s never trained for. Seen by some as a liability, she must contend with her own crew as well as the Russian cosmonauts, as everyone races to uncover the hatch’s mystery.

What she finds there is beyond anything she could imagine. The future of humankind could be changed for ever. The only question is whether she’ll make it home to tell her story.

Title : Celestial
Author : M.D. Lachlan
Format : Physical ARC
Page Count : 324
Genre : Sci-Fi
Publisher : Gollancz
Release Date : November 3, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Conceptually fascinating
Space race tensions
Somewhat whacky

Celestial was a historically set sci-fi adventure set in 1977 with the political cold war tensions between the US and the then Soviet Union you’d expect of that era. In some ways this book gave me an initial vibe of Sylvain Neuvel’s writing but it did diverge from that feeling as the book progressed. The context for this story was some strange happenings on the moon with a buddist language and linguist sent to investigate (the buddist element became important).

I found the first third of the book the most exciting part of the plot, the second third was a ‘let’s just go with it’ experience and the final third was somewhat esoteric where I had to trust the process. Sci-fi has a solid history in taking us places that seek to explore the existential and this book definitely took that direction.

Ziggy was a worthy lead for this book and you can imagine the misogyny she experienced in the 1970s as a female mixed race linguist amongst white male scientists and soldiers. I had one moment where I had to close the book in ire at one comment she received, but I’m sure that’s pretty realistic. This book is peppered with racist (micro)agressions from one vile character to a range of other characters but Ziggy did have some champions alongside, not least herself.

Kovac was a really odd character, pretty unfathomable to the last. I can’t say I liked her and I feel like my gut bore me out on this one. Toog was a great character and some of the Russians were endearing and yet odd.

I do recommend this one even though it does go strange places in the plot.

Thank you to Gollancz for the review copy.

3.75 stars rounded up.

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