With Tin Star, author Cecil Castellucci (YA editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books) takes readers to the boundless realm of outer space for a novel that tells not only of aliens and intrigue, but of our fundamental humanity.
The story opens with 16-year-old Tula Bane suffering a brutal assault at the hands of Brother Blue, a charismatic cosmic colonist, and being left for dead on Yertina Feray, a space station 16 light years from Earth. She’s the only human on the station, surrounded by a variety of alien species. Following her lengthy recovery, Tula manages to eke out a living scavenging and trading, building relationships, and holding out hope that someday she might escape from the station and exact revenge on Brother Blue.
An opportunity seems to present itself with the arrival of three other humans on the station, survivors of the destruction of a nearby spaceship. From them, she learns of the political machinations and conflicts sweeping the galaxy. Even the Yertina Feray is not safe. Inevitably, Tula is drawn to one of the survivors, but their fledgling romance risks becoming collateral damage when her chance for revenge arises.
The multi-talented Castellucci, whose graphic novel The Plain Janes garnered her a Joe Shuster Award for outstanding Canadian comic book writer in 2008, writes with a straightforwardness that belies the complexities of her ideas and world-building. The alien species Tula encounters are never merely set dressing; they are as richly and completely drawn as the human characters. The complications in Tula’s life, and the situations in which she finds herself, are also briskly but thoroughly rendered (though the romantic elements in the second half of the book aren’t entirely welcome and occasionally edge toward pro forma).
Tin Star, the first instalment of a planned series, will satisfy experienced science fiction readers, but it will also serve well as an introduction to the genre.