Emma Smith is starting her first year of college at the University of Nebraska. While this by itself would be a huge life change, she’s also going to be taking on a very prestigious position that will completely change her life. After over a month of waiting Emma learns she has been chosen to be a student ambassador to work with a newly arrived alien race, the Ba’ren. These aliens wish to establish a positive relationship with Earth and in order to do so they are offering a number of gifts, many of which will save lives. Emma applied for this internship thinking that she would be working on cancer research, but what she actually becomes involved in will change not only her life, but the world.
Edwin Peng’s Star City moves between the points of view of Emma Smith, a human student ambassador, and Sepporinen, her Ba’ren counterpart. While Emma is both nervous and excited about this new opportunity, Sepporinen is irate that he is being sent to Earth. His first meeting with Emma goes terribly wrong and while he does not wish to continue working with her, he is forced to remain in his role. Though tensions are high the two begin to build a relationship as friends, but something begins to stir between them. As violence and anger on Earth rise in connection to these newcomers the work being done by the Ba’ren and the human ambassadors is threatened. All of this builds to a moment that could possibly destroy everything.
The Ba’ren created by Peng are a tremendously well fleshed out alien race and he takes his time creating a very detailed history for them. He also makes sure to explain what is happening throughout, not only throughout Nebraska, but throughout the world. Over the course of the novel he focuses on growing Sepporinen’s character from someone who is stubborn and standoffish to understanding and accepting, which is interesting to follow. Beyond that he also has Emma work through a number of unexpected challenges to her world view, especially in connection to how the program she is involved with works. Star City is an interesting read that sci-fi fans will enjoy, there is even a touch of romance that those who typically don’t read alien focused stories will like.
You can find Star City on sale now.
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