The Stars Are Legion was one of my favorite books of last year and my first adult sci-fi book. A year later, I still think it’s one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read – it’s an all-female, all-lesbian space opera – and it was even more interesting on reread.
This book is gross. Take this seriously.
If you are bothered by gore, body horror and violence, you shouldn’t read The Stars Are Legion. It’s a biopunk space opera with horror aspects, it’s supposed to be gross; if “gross” isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t read biopunk horror! It’s like reading erotica when you hate sex scenes. Don’t do that to yourself.
I love the worldbuilding. This book is set in the Legion, a group of cephalopod-like world-ships who are at war with each other and rotting alive with their inhabitants. These inhabitants, who are all women, get pregnant regularly (parthenogenesis!), but they don’t necessarily give birth to children. You could also give birth to a cog. Or slugs. Or a whole world.
Also, there are buildings of bone and sinew, raining saliva, cannibalism feasts and people walking through the veins of the giant cephalopod thing (…which is, by the way, a good choice of mollusk for the setting, as cephalopods are the only mollusks with a closed circulatory system! It’s not like I would have called clamworlds inaccurate, nothing about this is real science, but I appreciate this kind of details.)
It’s unique and unforgettable and so weird – I loved every moment of it, even when the description made me want to put the book down because I’m not actually that into body horror. And the worldbuilding wasn’t the only thing I loved about this, of course.
I love Zan. I usually hate plotlines that have something to do with amnesia because the character who loses their memory has usually no personality for most of the book, but that’s not the case with Zan. She’s brutal and desperate for a better future, and she is, deep down, a good person.
Jayd scares me. She is a fighter too, this is a book about brutal women, but she’s the kind of character that gets what she wants through intrigue and seduction and lies. And then there’s Rasida, who is the villain of the story, maybe in love with Jayd, maybe not.
There’s a messy, really unhealthy f/f/f love triangle in this book (don’t get into this looking for a romance! It’s not) with a villain ship, and that’s what I didn’t know I always wanted. There’s something fascinating about unhealthy relationship portrayed as such in SFF, and I couldn’t put the book down.
Yes, there are some unanswered questions, and the pacing isn’t always perfect (travel books rarely have perfect pacing), but I found this deliciously evil even on reread, especially that plot twist I should have seen coming with all that foreshadowing but didn’t.
Also: if you ever decide to read this, don’t skip the “Annals of the Legion” excerpts by Lord Mokshi. They’re placed in a way that makes you feel like Lord Mokshi is trolling you, and maybe you’re right.
My rating: ★★★★¾