Ossus Library Index
Science Fiction Index


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

Asterion Noir, book 2

Searching for hints as to why the Guides are sending people to their deaths, Nika and Dashiel observe and invade Rasu space, while NOIR tries desperately to get the insanity-causing toxin off the streets.


+ -- First reading (ebook)
December 10th to 21st, 2021


This was a book about change, for the main characters as well as Asterion society. It was about the relationship between Nika and Dashiel, trying to incorporate her old life into the new one she’d been forging over the last five years. It’s about confronting the Guides, berating them for not coming up with another plan to evade the Rasu’s interest. And it’s about the role of the Asterion Advisors, and if they want to be part of a society that is dwindling because of the deal the Guides made eight years ago. I liked all parts of this change, especially the relationship between Nika and Dashiel. I can’t say that any of it was riveting, but it kept my interest, and I liked what I saw. I imagine something different is coming in the next book, and I look forward to discovering what Nika comes up with.

Spoiler review:

A steady foray into ancient relationships and galactic disaster. The book was consistent, but rarely rose above very good, even in the action scenes. Our heroes have such a wide array of armaments and ingenuity that it’s hard to see them losing to Security’s bots. I do enjoy their ingenuity, though, making them smart characters working against a difficult situation.

One of the Guides has finally realized that their response to the Rasu demands is lacking in imagination, and can’t continue for much longer. She provides clandestine information to Nika, so she and Dashiel land on the planet that’s to be evacuated to provide people for the aliens. I enjoyed all the scenes with Nika and Dashiel, and could feel Dashiel’s frustration when he saw the old Nika poking through, but couldn’t reach her. His theme for this book was acceptance of who she is now, while hers is to incorporate some of her old self into her new personality. She won’t be the same as she was –or is.

To watch the evacuation, Nika uses her contacts in an alien society to get one of their cloaking devices. Nika’s travails there were fun and interesting, though it was rarely in doubt that she would get the device. Just as it’s never really in doubt that Dashiel will be able to install it, especially with the help from Nika’s old lover, the one who built the ship in the first place.

Nika stows away on the evacuation ship after failing to plant a tracking device. Dashel succeeds in planting one at the last minute and tracks Nika to a small space-based outpost, where Nika discovers thousands of suspended bodies ready for transport. She slices into the ship’s computer to find its destination before escaping, out from under the nose of the Advisor who is leading the task.

Meanwhile, one Advisor, and old friend of Nika and Dashiel, has realized that the Guides have gone too far by releasing this virutox that’s turning more people into criminals, and is trying to get it off the street. He and his team develop an anti-virulent, and contact NOIR to get it to the people. Joachim is captured, but Perrin takes control of the group, showing her leadership for the first time. She’s uncertain, but grows into the role through her passion for Joachim and Nika. Even when she feels betrayed, and confronts Adlai about it, she uses her gut to determine if he’s lying. Her optimism is a great feature, and here it doesn’t steer her wrong.

With the failure of the virutox by way of the arm implants, the Guides have developed an airborne toxin, which they release at a closed-in market. The mechanic who build Nika’s ship gets caught, but through Perrin and then Adlai, gets the anti-virulent and escapes. Adlai and his team are under investigation, but not yet fired, and he still has access to a lot of information and contacts. He convinces another friend of Nika’s, a powerful socialite, to distribute the anti-virulent.

When Dashiel is captured and taken to the Platform, somehow a prison and the place where the Guides reside, Adlai and Nika and Perrin can’t wait any longer. Joachim’s mind is hacked so the Guides find the location of NOIR’s headquarters, and Nika barely manages to get most of her friends out through the cloaked ship. Joachim manages to get free and finds Dashiel. This was the most plausibility-stretching part of the book, as nobody physically searched Joachim, so he kept his hidden knife and a whole bunch of other tools, and the prison is only manned by bots, which are the equivalent of Stormtroopers- easy to destroy. It’s a wonder there aren’t more prison breaks, especially among those with black-market upgrades. Justice needs to sample more of these people and upgrade their systems appropriately.

As Adlai, Nika and NOIR infiltrate the access to the Platform, Joachim and Dashiel work their way to the gateway from the inside. Joachim finds the Guides, and rigs the Platform to explode after their gone. The battle to get them off the platform was pretty standard. What I really enjoyed at this time was the party Perrin and the socialite Advisor hosted to keep all the other Advisors on this planet away from the escape. They told the Advisors the truth, with reluctant help from the one who was sending Asterions to the Rasu, and the Advisor who was subverting Adlai. It was a real politics game, and well done, especially as we learn that the Rasu are demanding more and more Asterion bodies because they are intrigued by how they are constructed –except that the bodies always disappear. Are the Rasu transferring their own consciousnesses into the bodies, or destroying them, as Nika suspects?

Nika herself seems to be much older than her thousands of years suggest. Her sex with Dashiel, which he takes as her returning to him, unlocks several very old memories, as with the last book they seem to stretch back to the beginning of the Asterion’s flight from the human galaxy. One of these suggests that Dashiel is an old lover reborn, whom she rediscovered, and she worries about him leaving her as the old lover did, tired of life. Her rejection of him after a wonderful night of love sends him into the trap that gets him captured. She has also experienced help from an unknown source –I suspect it’s her future self –in a game that she and Perrin played showing the invasion of a world by the Rasu. I’m not sure what it signifies yet, but it does showcase the power of these aliens, whom it seems can’t be defeated.

There is a tease of advanced aliens in another corner of the galaxy that shut humanity out as soon as they made contact, and I wonder if they will be part of Nika’s plan to defeat the Rasu –who seem to inhabit many galaxies and can travel between them at a whim. Because now that Joachim has destroyed the Platform, and Nika has revealed the nature of the Guides duplicity in sending bodies to the Rasu, they’ve effectively torn up the agreement without a plan in place. Nika is good at making things up as she goes along, but that doesn’t seem quite enough in this case. Time, and the next book, will tell…


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