Under Fortunate Stars: Book Review

A time travel fiction concept that definitely falls under the category of “things I didn’t quite realize was a sub-sub-genre” until recently is the “Don’t Meet Your Heroes” story (with the alternative addendum of “Or do, I’m not your parental figure”). Basically, a story where the main characters travel back in time, either intentionally or unintentionally, and end up meeting someone (whether a singular person or multiple people) who are on the eve of doing some thing instrumental to the timeline, and who one or multiple of the protagonists idolizes, with the grand reveal being that they aren’t quite the kind of person that history has remembered them as being. Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Huchings – March’s Sword & Laser book club pick – is a really great example of this kind of story.

Book Cover of Under Fortunate Stars

Under Fortunate Stars follows the research vessel Gallion, which is currently between academic seasons so they’re basically taking on charter work shuttling a diplomat from the Felen – an alien race humanity had previously been at war with, but that war was stopped by the heroic crew of the Jonah, known as the Fortunate Five, who managed to negotiate a peace treaty after a desperate mission to a world that the Felen had besieged, and which stopped a war that would have destroyed both races. After the Gallion encounters a spacial rift that knocks out their engines, they find with them in this area the Jonah – except the ship isn’t actually on a heroic mission of diplomacy and the crew, well – this would describe them well:

– What a bunch of a-holes. – (CHUCKLES)

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) clip with quote – What a bunch of a-holes. – (CHUCKLES) Yarn is the best search for video clips by quote. Find the exact moment in a TV show, movie, or music video you want to share. Easily move forward or backward to get to the perfect clip.

In a way, this fits in nicely with (among other things), Star Trek: First Contact in terms of a science fiction story about a bunch of people who potentially could (and in the future did), save the future for the better, but in the present are have become a bunch of self-serving dicks out of desperation and cynicism and who need a push in the right direction to do the right thing.

What helps this particular version of the story work is it puts a whole lot of time and effort into getting into where the crew of the Jonah came from – we get plenty of flashbacks about every other chapter to one of the members of the crew’s backgrounds, to set up why they have the worldviews they do (with some exceptions – the Jonah‘s mechanic has no such backstory, but he’s also kind of there to be a more directly antagonistic figure to be overcome).

The story also goes really fast. It helps that, and this feels weird saying – this is a story for science fiction fans. It works in concepts that fans would have a sense of familiarity with. It’s the same way that the good parts of Brightness Falls from the Air took advantage of the fact that this was a science fiction story that was made in a post-Star Trek world, so we had an audience that was familiar with the concepts of Star Trek and the Federation (especially if you were into SF), and so that gives the reader a framework to build off of – in the same way that Star Wars, Firefly, and New Battlestar Galactica have done for modern space opera (or for that matter Mobile Suit Gundam and Space Battleship Yamato have done for Japanese space opera).

This all made for a book I got through very quickly, not because I was in a hurry (I finished it very early in March), but because this was a book that moved with a purpose.

I definitely would give this book a full recommendation, and while I don’t know if this is going to get nominated for anything – I will say that the next time something by Ren Huchings comes out, I’m definitely going to give it a look.

Under Fortunate Stars is available from Amazon, Alibris, and Kobo, and buying anything through those links supports the site.

Please support my Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/countzeroor
Buy me a coffee at Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/countzero
Watch my Live-Streams on http://twitch.tv/countzeroor

%d bloggers like this: