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To Sleep in a Sea of Stars    by Christopher Paolini order for
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
by Christopher Paolini
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Christopher Paolini's SF epic, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, is very different from his Eragon fantasy series and quite extraordinary. Its heroine is xenobiologist Kira Navarez, who has a much too close encounter with an alien entity. It changes her, but also significantly enhances her chances of survival - and that of her species - as humanity encounters a very hostile alien threat.

Paolini gives readers an engaging lead in an impossible situation, with constant action and suspense throughout. Ancient alien dust essentially joins with Kira in a symbiotic relationship and reacts violently to perceived threats against her. Kira's initial lack of control of these reactions has tragic results that haunt her. While struggling to survive in this new form and to keep her species from extinction , she works hard to achieve some measure of control over the xeno that calls itself The Soft Blade.

Kira takes a very dangerous journey in her attempt to forewarn humanity of the imminent threat. Almost dead, she's picked up by the SLV Wallfish under Captain Falconi, but largely run by shipmind Gregorovich (who hovers on the edge of madness). Through many dangers, Kira and the crew overcome initial distrust to become friends - and perhaps more for Kira with Falconi. Over time, Kira learns of factions among the alien Jellies, of even more dangerous entities, and of the perilous Staff of Blue.

How much will the entity that has become a part of Kira change her? How much more can it do than she has already discovered? Will she ever be able to rid herself of it? How great is the threat to humanity? You'll have to read To Sleep in a Sea of Stars to answer at least some of these questions. It's a brilliant read.

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