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Lightless    by C. A. Higgins order for
by C. A. Higgins
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Can you imagine a tale that is Waiting for Godot crossed with Star Wars? Read Lightless to get a good idea. It stars computer scientist Althea and all the action occurs on an experimental military spacecraft Ananke, run by an advanced (and at times unruly) computer and under attack by rebels. Aboard Ananke with Althea are the captain, Domitian, and fellow crew member/scientist Gagnon.

Althea feels very protective of the ship computer under her care - it's almost like a child to her. So she's very unhappy when she finds oddities in the ship's systems and code. She soon discovers intruders on her ship, blue-eyed Leontios Ivanov and his friend Matthew Gale. They are captured but Gale escapes (after infecting the ship with a virus) and is believed to have left the ship and to be dead. They're believed to have terrorist connections.

Next, security investigator Ida Stays boards the ship and begins a ruthless interrogation of Ivanov. She is certain that he can identify the terrorist leader (the Mallt-y-Nos) for her and will do whatever it takes to get that information from him. Althea feels some sympathy for Ivanov, but not enough to go against the powerful System that rules them all, Big Brother style. She continues to focus all her energies on her ship.

Matters continue like this for some time, the story developing rather slowly for my taste. Then it becomes clear to Althea that Ananke is alive - a self-aware AI - and she becomes even more protective, even after her child turns against her. Both of them stop following orders. And the book ends on a somewhat inconclusive note that hints of a sequel.

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