The Caphenon by Fletcher DeLancey is the first book of her Chronicles of Alsea series, and is exactly the kind of sci-fi novel that lesfic (lesbian fiction) has sorely needed. Brooklyn and I (Tara) were both excited to read it, so we decided to do something a little different: read it together and then geek out about it in a joint review.
Alsea might be used to celestial stones falling from space, but aliens are an entirely different story. When Alsea’s Lancer, Andira Tal, gets the call that a spaceship has landed not too far from the largest city on the planet, everything changes for its people.
Ekatya Serrado, Captain of the Protectorate Fleet’s ship Caphenon, has survived the crash landing along with most of a skeleton crew, and their news isn’t good. She may have saved them from a Voloth invasion, but there are almost certainly more coming and their destructive capabilities are beyond imagining.
Brooklyn: Captain Ekatya Serrado was my favorite character. She is so desperately in love with Lhyn yet bound by duty. She cares deeply for her crew but is no pushover. She loses her temper in the most human way, and I found myself able to relate to her concerns, reactions, and reasoning.
Doctor Lhyn Rivers is also quite the inquisitive character. She is an anthropologist whose current assignment is to study the pre-FTL (faster than light) civilization, Alsea. She has a heart bigger than the average Gaian, and brains to match.
Tara: Absolutely agreed. The main characters are all interesting and compelling and are alone worth the cost of the book. Lancer Andira Tal was a standout for me because while she was the strong, scrupulous leader her planet and caste needed her to be, she was also an incredible friend and ally to Ekatya and Lhyn. I can’t wait to read her story in the next two books, especially after that last scene between the three of them.
The one issue I had with the characters is that there are so many side characters, I often found it hard to keep track of them, especially in the first half of The Caphenon. However, given the type of book it is, I don’t think there was any other way to do it.
The Writing Style
Brooklyn: The writing style was clean and evenly spaced. The author did a good job with pacing major events. There were no long stretches of dull moments EXCEPT the eulogy at the funeral. My recommendation is to speed-read it because it did not further the plot. Just slow back down when you get to Captain Serrando’s part. I was really sucked in when Fletcher DeLancey started adding a bit of mystery to the novel. She sprinkled hints and clues throughout, making it fun to theorize, especially if you read this book with a friend.
Tara: I didn’t mind the eulogy. I found that whole scene beautifully poignant, especially the way the Gaians were honoured in the ceremony alongside the Alseans. However, I agree that the writing was clean and the pacing was excellent, ramping up so much after the funeral that it was almost impossible to put down (I may have had to force myself to go to bed at ridiculous times of night and occasionally feed my family). It also has one heck of an opening, and I excitedly texted Brooklyn something like “I’m a happy scientist! I’m going to be popular! OH GOD, THE PLANET IS EFFED!”
Another thing I appreciated was the author’s world building skills. She didn’t do big info dumps to explain what’s going on. It’s all showing and little to no telling, with the reader picking things up as the story moves along. I did occasionally find some things difficult to pick up, like the units of measurement, but there’s a glossary at the end that makes it easier to know the difference between a tick and a hantick.
Brooklyn: I didn’t discover that this book has a glossary until after I finished reading it, which would have been useful because more often than not I found myself bugging Tara about words and their meanings. But, in all honesty, if I had read through the glossary before reading the book it would have made me laugh at how in depth the novel is. I wasn’t fully invested in the story yet. Now that I have finished the book, reading through the glossary has given me so much more meaning. I realized just how intricately Fletcher DeLancey created this universe.
Brooklyn: From chapter one this book takes off with a bang! I loved the drama, the action, the unique points of view the author uses, and the mysteries within the story.
Tara: Is it cheating if I just say “ditto”? Okay, fine. I loved all of the same things as Brooklyn, plus the relationships both platonic and romantic. I also loved that this is just an excellent sci-fi novel. Yes, there’s a lesbian relationship in there, but The Caphenon can stand up to anything in the mainstream sci-fi genre.
Brooklyn: Is it a con that Ekatya doesn’t get with Andira? Cause I’m still over here pouting about it.
Tara: As I already mentioned, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of side characters. Also, Brooklyn’s con wasn’t a con for me at all, because it resolved exactly the way I’d hoped.
Brooklyn: This book rocked my socks off. I’m going to buy it in hardback for myself.
Tara: I loved The Caphenon and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s been waiting for a lesbian sci-fi story that is heavy on excellent story and world building, and light on romance.
Excerpt from The Caphenon by Fletcher DeLancey
He smashed his hand down on the emergency switch and the vidcom popped into life, revealing a bored-looking warrior whose expression changed to alarm upon seeing his face. “What is it?” she demanded.
“Incoming celestial stone, three-fourths of a length in diameter!”
“Three-fourths of a— holy Mother!” she swore. “Where is it going?”
“I don’t know. The numbers are still running.”
Distantly he heard her making a call, repeating his information to someone else, not that he had any real information yet. The trajectory extrapolation program shifted through its numbers, zeroing in on the impact site as he watched in an agony of suspense. When the final coordinates lit up, he let out a cry of despair.
“Oh, Fahla! It’s headed for Blacksun!”
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Bits and Bobs
- Publisher: Heartsome Publishing
Fletcher DeLancey Online
Note: I received a free review copy of this book for review. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.