Zenith - Arshad Ahsanuddin 3.5

I don't need heros on this mission. I need survivors.

Well, that was an enjoyable space opera, including a lot of science-fuckery and wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.

It's the year 2176. The Zenith is a ship with a ground-breaking new technology, designed to jump through space into the orbit of Alpha Centauri, to create a colony in the star's habitable zone and search for habitable planets (whatever happened to Kepler-22b and all the other possibly habitable planets the Kepler Telescope has identified between 2009 and 2013). But the technology to fold space also allows to fold time and to change history.

The romance takes the back-seat in this story. If you read it for what it is – a solid SciFi with a strong plot, a gripping adventure in space with mind-boggling manipulations of time – you are in for a compelling journey. If you expect a classic romance and some steam, you might end up disappointed. I mean, the romance is so low-key, the book didn't even make it on my m/m-shelf. And what little sex there is, is rather bland and paint-by-numbers. Don't expect a deep insight into characters or a lot of character development either. This is not a character-driven story. Its driving-force is the plot, combined with tons and tons of (pseudo)-science. The (pseudo)-science holds up really well – if you can ignore the fact that the book doesn't acknowledge existing research (which I can't. It drove me bonkers. But that's completely my problem).

Ahsanuddin's writing has remarkably refined since his vampire spacetravel stuff. My biggest pet peeve, the „the other man, the smaller man, the younger man“ stuff, is still present, but not obtrusive enough to hamper my enjoyment. Bits and pieces of info-dumping dialogue are cleverly integrated into the story. And you need those info to know what's going on. The only thing I have to criticise is a certain lack of palpable emotions. If characters fall in love or die in the dozens, it's all rather rushed over. The emotions are supposed to be there, but never reached me.

Although character development clearly isn't the focus here, most of the characters a real and sympathetic enough. Martin seemed rather bland to me and I didn't exactly like him, but the other characters more than made up for that, especially Stella, Knox and Jacob. The author thankfully avoids black-and-white stereotypes, but presents motives for every character's actions. Even if the „villains“ motives are not yet revealed, I expect it to happen in the sequel.

Talking about sequel: What an end! I'm glad that I waited till the sequel was published before I started reading Zenith. Oh, the anticipation...