Publication date : October 12, 2021
Language : English
File size : 3854 KB
A 2021 Kirkus Best of the Year Book
A 2021 Kirkus Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book
“[A] dark, poetic tale of struggling human colonists and ambiguously motivated aliens on a distant planet. Brissett uses the alien setting to explore contemporary issues, including racism, the complexities of allyship, and the trauma experienced by child soldiers. The author’s updated take on a classic myth is both clever and entertaining…Richly developed and profound” —Kirkus, Starred Review
“Destroyer of Light is proof positive that we’re living in a new golden age of science fiction.” ―Charlie Jane Anders, Hugo Award-winning author
“Destroyer of Light grapples with themes of both the human and post-human experience in a way that is wholly original and seductively engaging. Brissett builds a richly layered and imaginative world that reflects much of our own―the good, the brutal, and the truly monstrous―while daring us to dream of something more. This is a tale not only of becoming and transformation, but about the choices we make that bring us to our destinations. In a time of new, meaningful, and thrilling science fiction, Destroyer of Light is a must read.” ―P. Djèlí Clark, Hugo Finalist and author of The Haunting of Tram Car 015
“A saga that combines many of sf’s most beloved tropes―a remnant of humanity struggling to survive on a far away world, aliens whose goals are dangerously unknowable, alien/human hybrids with unpredictable abilities, suspense, plot twists, and that good old sense of wonder. Hugely ambitious, impressively accomplished.” ―Karen Joy Fowler
“Destroyer of Light confirms Brissett as one of our finest and most ambitious novelists. A world-spanning epic that explores and explodes what it’s like to be both human and post-human. Gorgeously written and heartfelt, it’s quite simply one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time.” ―Elizabeth Hand, author of The Book of Lamps and Banners and Curious Toys
Having destroyed Earth, the alien conquerors resettle the remains of humanity on the planet of Eleusis. In the four habitable areas of the planet—Day, Dusk, Dawn, and Night—the haves and have nots, criminals and dissidents, and former alien conquerors irrevocably bind three stories:
*A violent warlord abducts a young girl from the agrarian outskirts of Dusk leaving her mother searching and grieving.
*Genetically modified twin brothers desperately search for the lost son of a human/alien couple in a criminal underground trafficking children for unknown purposes.
*A young woman with inhuman powers rises through the insurgent ranks of soldiers in the borderlands of Night.
Their stories, often containing disturbing physical and sexual violence, skate across years, building to a single confrontation when the fate of all—human and alien—balances upon a knife’s-edge.
DAWN, 10 YEARS AGO . . .
The child is too young to understand that her mother’s recent behavior has little to do with her, and everything to do with her mother’s own discomfort—and maybe anger—that her daugh- ter is turning into a woman. The helplessness in seeing her child grow into not needing her is at times too much to bear. One day Cora may understand this. But not now. Not today.
I follow Cora as she leaves the kitchen and enters her bedroom. The redness of the evening light cascades through her open window, flooding her small room in a burnt sienna blush. The horizon glows a golden yellow shimmer, mocking a rising sun. This view remains, and will always remain, on this tidally locked world where the people live on a narrow perimeter around the center of the sphere, the habitable ring. This half of the ring has been designated as Dawn. The other half, designated as Dusk, has a similar, but some consider, darker view.
The rotting remains of the transport ship that brought her and her mother here—the very last ship to leave Earth—stand in the distance, its metallic frame oranged with rust like the bloody ribs of a skinned animal. Cora and her mother are both a little more than four hundred ET (Earth Time) years old, unchanged by time as they slept in their cryogenic chambers. And yet changed. Their bodies manipulated to “help with their adaptation to the environmental differences” of this world.
Deidra has become a worker of the soil, her hands gifted with abilities with the Seed. Her skills made her invaluable as the hard, unforgiving land struggled to feed the people. But Cora . . . Cora was turned into something I still don’t quite understand. Knowledge of her alterations has been purposefully taken from me, and I desperately need to remember. Only now, as I reach into her memories, do I begin to glimpse what she is becoming. Cora, lost in concentration, wistfully stares upward, seeing more than only the stars high in the indigo-blue sky. What she gazes upon with those eyes of hers is the reason I am here.
Many who arrived in the transports had similar indications of body manipulations, their irises glittering every color but normal as they awoke from their long sleep. Eventually the iris colors of most (but not all) turned into shades of brown. But Cora’s eyes seemed to have intensified with age, glowing like a cat’s caught in the light.
Cora understood her difference. The manifestations of all that
she is to become may not have fully flowered, yet she knew. So why has her mind brought me here? And such odd things to show me, such odd things to remember. These nothing moments, as memories, hold weight for her. I continue my ghostly study, searching for these answers.
Children pass by Cora’s window in groups of twos, then threes, then fours and fives. More still can be seen in the distance, arriving from a variety of directions. All carrying small bundles and heading towards the north. Every evening the children in the Outlands of Dawn walk for miles to the nearest town, seek- ing shelter for the night from raiding rebel militias who prey upon small villages to steal these little ones to fill their ranks.
Cora hurries to ready herself for her nightly journey, assem- bling her homework, rolling her bedding, and wrapping her hair in a gonar, the traditional headwrap her mother still insists that she wear. Flashes of girls from the village making fun of Cora ap- pear before my sight, as well as a few of the tense battles she has had with her mother as she begged to be allowed to dress like the others do. The image of her mother remaining stubbornly firm on the matter lingers before me, then fades away.
Cora finishes folding the flap beneath her chin, completing her tentlike attire. She returns to the kitchen, where her mother sits at the table preparing some herbs to be dried. Cora quietly slips past with her arms full of her bundle. Mother doesn’t look up as Cora approaches the door and cracks it open. A slice of dim light from the outside world cuts into the room.
“Good night, Mom,” Cora says.
“Don’t forget to bring in the water when you come home in the morning,” her mother replies, still not looking in her direction.
“I won’t forget,” Cora says as she quietly steps through the door.
And now I see why this memory is so important. These are the last moments this daughter will have with her mother for many, many years . . .