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A novel by G.S. Jennsen
(2018, Hypernova)

Asterion Noir, book 1

After waking up with her memory wiped, a woman joins a terrorist group that protests the government, which has been taking drastic and illegal measures to satisfy a secret threat.


-- First reading (ebook)
November 9th to 20th, 2020


It took me a while to get into the story. Maybe it’s because I was dropped into the universe so deep into the series, but that’s not something I normally have a problem with. I wasn’t too interested in NOIR and the way they were protesting inequality, though it seems like a noble cause, especially since they were right. The side characters were nothing more than dressing, even though we got a lot of time with some of them. But once Nika meets Dashiel, things started to get interesting. Imagining a relationship that lasts thousands of years, across multiple generations of upgrades, is astonishing, but the author does a great job in showing us the love that can result after getting to know somebody so well. It wasn’t the same when they were separated; the only part I really enjoyed in NOIR afterwards was Nika’s exploration of why she felt as she did toward Dashiel, though she didn’t want to. The mystery of Nika’s brainwipe is revealed to the readers, but not the main characters, so it was nice to see how they joined forces, for different reasons. The author also did a good job at hiding the true nature of the people, though I began to suspect early on based on OS updates and so on. I was only half correct. I’ll continue reading the trilogy, just to find out what’s going on, but I hope the author can engage my interest for more than a few scenes at a time in future books.

Spoiler review:

My favorite scene by far was the sex scene, though it was far from graphic and not erotic in the typical sense. It was more love than anything, the way he could touch her body and make her feelings resurface.

The NOIR infiltration of the transit authority, stealing identities and challenging authority with their petty thefts, was much less interesting than the quickly-explored romance between Nika and Dashiel. It did, however, allow us to explore the tech that these people could use. Telepathic or touch-communication (through fingertips) to infiltrate systems, extendible fingers, extra security routines, virus infections, generation body upgrades, and so on show us some advanced humanity. There is a major plot where one of the NOIR members gets infected by a virus, which is what sends Nika to Dashiel’s office at the company he owns, and sets in motion a very slow restoration of her feelings, if not her memories.

The catch is that as a prominent Advisor to the governing Guides, Nika was investigating the disappearance of outer research stations, and presumably the increase in petty crimes that send thousands of people to stasis prison without a real trial. It turns out the Guides are responding to an alien incursion into their space, and these aliens are demanding people -for what purpose, I can only guess: labor, food, what else?

Dashiel is smitten, and his life has been pretty much in limbo since Nika disappeared, ostensibly to retire for a rest for several generations. But that’s a cover-up, as the Guides had her memory wiped to protect their own illegal actions. Nika goes off on her own, and Dashiel follows her, because he can’t stand life without her, especially now that she’s returned. She’s a different person than she was five years ago, but after more than three thousand years together, her old feelings toward him cannot be denied, and some of her basest memories are returning, so we’ll see.

The last chapters reveal some of the history of these half-synthetic beings, who were created as hybrid AI in organic bodies (with some in pure synthetic bodies), which is why they can have OS updates and software extracts, and so on. This is hinted at early on in the story, but not confirmed until later. The memories that resurface for Nika belong to her original body, where she orchestrated a plan to escape the persecution of the AIs by humanity in the Milky Way galaxy, so they hatched a plan to escape to another galaxy.

We’ll see what happens next, as the story continues.


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