Monday, June 19, 2017


Nicky Drayden is the author of The Prey of Gods.

She applied the Page 69 Test to fellow novelist Marina J. Lostetter's forthcoming novel, Noumenon, and reported the following:
I got my hands on an ARC of Noumenon recently after working on an article about Artificial Intelligence with her. I had no idea I was in for such an expansive and mesmerizing adventure. Noumenon features a super-intelligent, sentient AI charged with overseeing the many needs of an interstellar convoy travelling to an anomalous star that appears to deny the laws of physics.

On page 69, we catch a glimpse of a crew member’s training prior to the ship’s departure as she learns about Earth-to-Convoy communications from a rather aloof mentor:
I was baffled, at first. And also a little insulted. Here was a man whose expertise in communications had landed him one of the most important tutoring positions in the world—he was training ambassadors to space (myself along with seven others—three on different convoys), and would be his students’ main connection to Earth once they left the ground—yet he couldn’t hold a normal conversation.

If anyone other than Mother or Father had brought Saul into my life I would have thought it a colossal joke.

But, like a good little soldier, I held in my doubts and accepted the training. As it turned out Saul was a capable teacher. He taught mostly through illustration and hyperbole rather than pontification, which I appreciated. And when it came to his work he was quick and accurate, but it wasn’t until I advanced to decoding on my own that I realized why he had the job.

While the man couldn’t’ smoothly string five words together in person, he was a whiz when it came to communicating long-distance. Without all of the physical cues to get in the way, with the words stripped bare, he was the most articulate man I’d ever met.
Page 69 is spot on in terms of representing the book, since communication is a critical element for the mission’s success. When the convoy sets out, communication with Earth is vital as this fledgling society learns to deal with the volatility of life in space. Generations will pass on the ships, and their only tether to Earth comes in the form of tiny comm packets sent through subspace. Due to time dilations from space travel, nearly a year passes for each month aboard the ship, so distance between Earth and the convoy becomes more than just the empty space that separates them. We get a sense of the speed of disconnect when Saul’s life speeds before our eyes. He gets engaged, gets married, has a kid who’s then off to college before his spacebound pupil can even find someone to settle down with. Then Saul is retiring only few years into ship time. Soon after that, the convoy is communicating with complete strangers, and after that...the messages from Earth mysteriously stop.

The convoy’s mission is to voyage to the anomalous star, and then return to Earth with their findings, but if they’re five years into a centuries-long mission, and everyone they know and love on Earth is already gone, you have to wonder what exactly they’ll return to, and what role communications will play so far into the future.
Visit Marina J. Lostetter's website.

--Marshal Zeringue