At its best, science fiction stretches the mind to its limits and beyond. Classic works such as Olaf Stapledon’s Starmaker and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy roam throughout the universe, spanning millions or even billions of years and offering a glimpse of humanity’s ultimate potential. In more recent years, contemporary sci-fi authors have ventured into the same unknown space with what I term visionary science fiction. They tend to bring a more nuanced view of the distant future. Marina J. Lostetter’s extraordinary novel, Noumenon, is a brilliant example.
A brilliant example of visionary science fiction
Noumenon opens in the closing decades of the 21st century as the human race prepares to probe the stars. The fleet after which the book is titled is one of seven expeditions sent in different directions far beyond the solar system. Each carries a crew of 100,000. We observe the men and women of Noumenon and the ten generations that follow them as they reach their distant destination and return, more than 2,000 years later in Earth time.
Noumenon (Noumenon #1) by Marina J. Lostetter (2017) 432 pages ★★★★★
Nothing is predictable
Nothing is predictable in this truly inventive tale. The members of the crew are all clones of Earth’s top scientists, engineers, social scientists, and other specialists, chosen for their ability to work comfortably in a crowded social setting. The events that unfold over the hundreds of years during which the fleet is underway are surprising to a fault. What they discover at their destination meets none of their expectations. And what they encounter upon returning to earth is shocking. No matter how imaginative you might be, you won’t guess any of these things.
Marina J. Lostetter has written two science fiction novels that appear to be the beginning of a series. She followed Noumenon with the publication of Noumenon Infinity.
For further reading
I”ve also reviewed the author’s standalone novel, Activation Degradation (Biomechanical robots battle invading aliens).
For more good reading, check out Good books about space travel, including both nonfiction and fiction, and:
- The ultimate guide to the all-time best science fiction novels;
- Great sci-fi novels reviewed: my top 10 (plus dozens of runners-up); and
- The top 10 dystopian novels reviewed here (plus dozens of others).
You might also check out Top 10 great popular novels reviewed on this site. And you’ll find this book on my list of The decade’s top 10 historical novels, mysteries & thrillers, and science fiction.
And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.