Beyond by Maureen A. Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beyond (Beyond Series) By Maureen A. Miller
Beyond is an entertaining book and for the most part I thought it was mostly light reading and quite suitable for the young adult market. There were elements that seemed quite familiar throughout the book and if I went into great depth to find them all I'd probably be able to start pointing out tropes that I've seen in recent reading.
The most striking and probably unusual of all connections though was the connection I felt to Jacqueline Susann's Yargo. For those who might not know Yargo is one of Jacqueline Susann's novels that was published after her death. It was written way back in the early or mid 50's at about the time we were seeing such movies as The Day the Earth Stood Still.(the original) The copy I have of this book bears some striking similarity to the cover I have for Beyond. (A woman walking toward a light in the sky.) Both of the female protagonists are being kidnapped by some supposed superior race of space borne bipeds that look strikingly like humans but seem at first look to be almost perfect. They both unwittingly have something that these races need to improve and secure their continued existence. (In Yargo it less of a material thing as it is just the concept that they have given up emotions and the main character is attempting to break their emotionless barrier and bring them back to life.) What Aimee Patterson has is more material but vital to the continued existence of these people and that is probably telling too much and making this a spoiler.
In Yargo the setting is in some far off planet named Yargo with a rule named Yargo who is best described as looking like Yul Brynner only taller. Mars and Venus are inhabited, which was often speculated in much of the science fiction of those times. In Beyond we have mostly far off inhabited world and a large city in space (Horus) type of space ship structure. The aliens that look quite human are much more emotional than in Yargo and they are compassionate and do hope to get Aimee back home but they are on a rotation schedule that will wont bring them back to Earth for another five years. The aliens of the Guardian Ship Horus are on a quest to other planets to scout their flora and some fauna for a cure to a virus that devastated their home world. The aliens are mostly of one race but there is a mysterious outsider (Zak) who is possibly the sole survivor from a world that was destroyed by the evil Korons (Rock or Sandmen).
As was mentioned Aimee has been kidnapped and the nature of the voyage dictates that she cannot return to earth for 5 years although in space at speeds greater than light speed those five years are condensed. Naturally since this is a romance we can guess that soon Aimee and Zak will become close. This book though deals with a lot of the world building and the rules of this world and universe. There are several things that come up about the rotation of the ship compared to the rotation of space itself and the universe that create interesting puzzles. But the core of the story is mostly bound around the characters. There is Salvan who seems to be the major antagonist, he's the one who accidentally kidnapped Aimee. I don't think we are ever clear just what he might have had in mind at first but it's all pretty evil nasty as the story progresses.
We learn of some of the other planets that are visited on the route and we learn of the planet that Zak came from which is on a part of the rotation. And we learn that although the people on Horus are mostly safe from the virus that decimated their world they are not entirely safe and they live in fear it will show up anytime and since it is airborne it will likely move quickly. That means they are in constant fear while hunting for the cure. It is no help that the Korons have space technology and on occasion will attack the Horus and her expedition ships.
If I were to highlight any single deficiency in the story it would be the time line aka relative time in space flight vs time on planets. I had the impression that the five years aboard Horus were more like a year or less for those aboard. Yet Aimee speaks of being 18 at the beginning and 23 at the end which could all be resolved easily by just saying that is relative to the earth 23 while she's more close to 19. The problem is that it seems to be more than that. This could become problematical and would definitely put a damper on space flight if those aboard the ship experience life in a condensed form and aged five year for every one aboard a ship. Even if they lived to be one hundred or two hundred it would still be a drag.
That aside there is a lot of food for thought in the story and I think that those who like their science a bit light and enjoy romance and adventure they should be pretty happy with the Beyond Series and it did prompt me to reread Yargo to refresh my memory.
Anyone who likes Beyond should enjoy Yargo, although Yargo might be a bit difficult to obtain.
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