Travel Documents 76: The Ansible Saga

The Ansible Saga

Stant Litore

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The Dust Cover Copy

Ansible, Season 1

Traveling across space and time to make first contact, explorers discover a terrible predator. Now only a band of time travelers stand between humanity and the long dark.

It is the twenty-fifth century. The planet’s most ambitious project is Starmind, an Islamic research institute that transfers the minds of volunteers, called Ansibles, across space and time to make first contact with other sentient beings in the universe. Each of the Ansible Stories follows one team of brave minds across the void. These are their reports, their transcripts, their distress calls, the only accounts of what they have found.

Ansible, Season 2

Traveling across space and time to make first contact, explorers discover a terrible predator. Now only a band of time travelers stand between humanity and the long dark.

The previous Ansibles found themselves marooned, but Zahid, last survivor of “Ansible 15718,” commands an interstellar fleet, and Sahira, the psionic savant we meet in “Ansible: Night Land” and “Ansible: Strike Force,” will take the battle to the pneumavores, humanity’s fiercest predators.

In Season Two of Ansible, humanity’s last conflict continues to blossom open, dark fire and dark flower, torching all of time and space. These are your descendants’ stories. Their cries in the dark. They are not to be missed.

There’s an omnibus copy too!

Ansible, Season 3

Meet the time travelers who stand between humanity and the last fall of night.

The pneumavores (“soul eaters”) have taken the earth and have spread to every planet humanity has ever touched. Now a Syrian refugee, a thirteenth-century librarian, and a hijabi shapeshifter from the far future must travel across space and time to defend humanity from this intergalactic and devouring evil.

They’ll find allies: A wheelchair gunslinger from far-future Beijing. A legion of women soldiers wielding Spinning Saws that can slice through predators that only barely exist inside our universe. A strange child-empath who can hear all of humanity’s suffering at every instant in history. A firestarter-goddess from our prehistory. Together, they will face a species that travels across time and feeds on terror itself.

The Scene

World building

Be warned, I’m getting gushy on this review.

In brief, if you were a fan of A Wrinkle In Time as a youth, you need Ansible in your maturity. This saga picks up where Wrinkle left off, delving deeper and reaching further into what it means to be human, what it means to have resolve, and what it means to stand against the dark.

In all times and all places, there are things to fear. And there are those we face our fears to protect. Those we love, whether as kin or as expressions of the divine in mortal form. This is a story of what it means to face the dark.

Okay, in a little more nuts-and-bolts detail, let’s elaborate. SO MUCH history, biology, and sociology goes into this story, making it breathe and move in organic and absolutely believable ways.  Litore’s exploration of what amounts to a second Golden Age of Islam is masterful. It takes the current socio-political situation and inverts it. Now scientific endeavor is the greatest way to honor God, as it was in the 900s, and the Islamic world has risen to shocking heights in stellar exploration. Most notably, they want to send human consciousness to other stars. But most ways to do that aren’t going to work.
There is one way, though. What if you could take the human *mind*, the human *consciousness*, and cast it out there?

Book 1 explores and elaborates on how the idea works. Book 2 takes the possibilities further. And by Book 3, the things that are done are incredible.

Litore’s ability to write advanced science into poetry and turn sci-fi into epic saga is something I will never cease to be amazed by. This isn’t a sci-fi adventure. Sure, space ships are involved, and sometimes pre-hominids too, and yeah, jellyfish that eat your braaaaaaainnnnsss (read that in as campy a tone as possible, please)
But in Litore’s hands, this material is so much more. This is the poetry of time, and space, and soul.

The Crowd

Characterization

The story begins with people we barely know the names of. But their spirits. Oh we get to know their spirits so well. Some are beautiful and broken and so, so sad, like Malala in Book 1. Some are fierce and sharp-edged and broken too, like a wounded hawk looking for a safe place to nest. That’s how I pictured Omar in Book 3, who became a protector of all human knowledge, and a father, a jailer and a sinner, a healer and a redeemed man in his span of years spread across centuries. And some are so humane that it breaks your heart to watch them watch others. That’s Sahira.

Each person becomes someone you both see yourself in and someone you could see as a neighbor in the books; some you’ll live beside for decades, some will die or move on before you’ve caught more than a few glimpses of them. But all are part of the story.

Oh, and guess what I didn’t mention above? This series is LGBT. Two of the most important protagonists are Rasha, a lady who will become so many things but begins as a Syrian refugee, and Sahira, who is her lover and is described as Shaykha, and God’s Angel, and the salvation of humanity by those around them. Oh hell yes. Thank you. Thank you for giving us a story where a lesbian character is so much more than who she takes to bed, and is loving and compassionate enough to be a good partner!

Compassionate, inclusive, and wonderful in its exploration of the human condition, this series lets you see through a thousand eyes and understand both yourself and the characters so much better for the seeing.

The Lingo

Writing Style

What can I say? Poetic style, amazing imagery, a powerful grasp of metaphor, and such a deep understanding of the human soul. A wonderful breadth of historical insight and biological understanding to anchor far flights into future and past. It’s gorgeous.

The Moves

Plot

For the reader, the work unfolds like a mandala flower, deeds across time and space creating a 4-dimensional poem of beauty, and strength, and resolve, and refusal to let the candle go out in the dark. Because, as another favorite book reminds us, the dark is ever rising.

In this case, the dark comes in the form of beings that feed on and farm minds for their ability to suffer. They are the soul eaters. They are terrible. They can barely be seen.

But they can surely be fought.

This story takes us all across God’s Mosaic, and leaves us at a door. What does it leave us with?

Renewed hope. Light as a feather. Bright as a candle. A dream, burning in the dark.

Overall Rating

This is the series we need right now. There has rarely been a more lyrical, evocative, and beautiful exploration of what it means to be human. It reminds us not only that we can be better than what we are: it reminds us of why we must be. And beyond that, it’s just a damn good story.

Grab yours. You’ll be glad you did.