Interstellar Sex Wars and the Blind Detective
by Shawn Adair Johnston
Genre: Science Fiction / Mystery
Print Length: 438 pages
Reviewed by Audrey Davis
A compelling tale of discovery and humanity
Shawn Adair Johnston’s futuristic science fiction/mystery novel Interstellar Sex Wars and the Blind Detective, the newest addition to his Blind Detective series, reaches outside of our solar system to feature a wide cast of diverse characters both human and non, scientific breakthroughs, and one exciting ride of a story.
Many years in the future, spaceships from planet Octopodia are spotted in the solar system headed toward Earth, and humans must decide how to proceed based on information given to them by the mysterious BuGaLus.
Peter Straw, private investigator, and his intellectually augmented guide dog Watson are initially working on a separate high-profile case, yet find themselves somehow wrapped up in the fate of the planet as well, tirelessly searching for missing answers in the chaos for the sake of humanity. “Criminals at home and invaders from the stars […] I wonder how much crazier it can get?”
This novel has all the best parts of a great science fiction story: excellent worldbuilding and setting descriptions, new advanced technologies and how they (hypothetically) work, creative characters, new species and planets, and more. And it’s got a strong, mysterious plot to boot. Combined with the witty humor and realistic dialogue, I did not want to put this book down.
Underneath the plot, Johnston has chosen to incorporate real-world issues, such as bioethics, gender equality, and geopolitics. I was pleasantly surprised at how often philosophical topics were discussed. The characters frequently consider things such as the possibility of life on other planets or in other galaxies, the idea of a “collective unconscious,” orthe simultaneous tenacity and fragility of life itself. The characters are given a chance to respond to all of these, and it is refreshing to see realistic ideals and viewpoints expressed in a believable future.
While I personally might have liked the plot to stay focused on the same characters/section of the story for more than one chapter at a time, the bouncing chapters do not detract from the overall flow of the story. The revolving subjects add to the frenzied feel of the conflict at hand and mirror the thoughts and anxieties of the characters dealing with it.
I have not read the other novels in Johnston’s Blind Detective series, but one can assume they will be just as enthusiastic as this one. Despite the story alluding briefly to prior events, it contains plenty of relevant backstory and present story to stand on its own—and not knowing exactly what the others hold made me excited to read what I’d apparently missed out on!
I’d be glad to to recommend this book to someone looking for an enthralling, well-paced sci-fi mystery. The characters are well-written, and the implications of the topics of artificial intelligence, life on other planets, light-speed travel, and scientific and medical breakthroughs certainly are thought-provoking ones. This story happily saves space for a possible next installment and leaves the reader to ponder the possibilities: “For sure, it is a big galaxy out there, but I have the uncomfortable feeling that it is going to get a lot smaller rather soon. I think we need to be prepared.”
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