An alien ship crash lands on Earth, leaving its only occupant stranded. But in a fortunate twist, Earth is a hospitable planet for Veni, from the atmosphere and food to the friendly and intelligent inhabitants.
The first such inhabitants Veni meets call themselves dwarves. And though they don’t understand the technology that brought the alien to them, they insist on being hospitable. Sure, Veni doesn’t understand why the inhabitants of this land insist on speaking a language that modifies for gender, but ze is anything if not adaptable—especially after ze meets Wystan, a man who speaks only with his hands.
Source: ARC from Less Than Three Press via NetGalley
This intriguing, short, fish-out-of-water tale mixes Science Fiction with Fantasy in a wonderful blend, where aliens meet dwarves and internal computer programming translates and teaches sign language in next to no time at all.
Veni is a wonderful main character. Ze is so open and curious about everything without being patronising or judgemental. It’s clear that Veni is from a much more advanced world, but ze finds plenty to admire amongst the industrious dwarves, while in Wystan ze finds solace from everything ze had to leave behind.
I have to admit I was a little non-plussed about the romance. I wasn’t sure what precisely drew Veni to Wystan – other than his unusual looks, I suppose – and likewise why Wystan fell for Veni. Everything about Veni is so insect-like that I struggled to picture hir face, which didn’t help, and the whole alien sex moment sounded pretty uncomfortable for Veni.
However, that aside, I really liked the details about how Veni differed from the humans and dwarves – from breathing to social taboos. It showed real thought from the author and I definitely admired that. I was less convinced with how things ultimately turned out, but in a story this short there isn’t room for in-depth plots or explorations of minor side characters – which is a shame because I really liked those dwarves and was very curious about some things there.
Overall, though, this is a well thought out tale that beautifully integrates a gender-neutral character in a high fantasy world, with a deaf romantic lead and some clever female dwarves. It’s full of wonder and curiosity and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll be looking out for more from this author.
From Stars They Fell is Out Now!
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