Picking up eleven years after Piercing The Celestial Ocean ended, BEYOND THE PALE BLUE SUN introduces new characters and resolves some mysteries from the series’ first book. After the research vessel S’trava exploded in the Celestial Ocean, everyone assumed A’zra and her crew died. But she alone was saved and put into stasis to heal. Back in the waterworld of M’aremundi, her partner, Victoria, grieved her loss as their pro-science cohort worked to take down the Grand Conclave’s theocracy. In the present, a new, fairer council governs all M’aremundi’s archipelagos with the help and guidance of the Greater Pod, a confederation of intelligent whales and dolphins that swim in the Celestial Ocean and who were once worshipped as M’aremundian gods. But when A’zra’s survival—and the conspiracy to hide it—is revealed, doubt creeps in. What else could the Greater Pod be hiding? Old enemies have faded, but a new opposition grows. In the story’s twin thread on the other side of a wormhole in the 24th century, the connection between embittered Captain Ekels of the Intragalactic Science Consortium, the entity in a stasis pod recovered from the vacuum, and M’aremundi become clearer as the alien woman awakes and calls out a familiar name.
Author Kip Koelsch ably continues to explore an original, intriguing world while keeping the narrative humming along in the second book of the “Saga of the Cerulean Universe”. He smoothly expands the scope, while keeping with the same Star Trek-ian themes of exploration, interspecies relations, and alien political intrigue. Readers will delight in learning about new species and Celestian Ocean geography, even if the physics of a massive, continuous ocean serving as a sky for many (presumably spherical) planets is not fleshed out. The writing is generally well-edited; the plot is brisk and jam-packed with events. Structurally, however, the narrative has a perpetual nowness that makes it difficult to gage the flow of time, especially between chapters when months have elapsed. This can be particularly confusing in a chronologically asymmetric multi-person narrative. On balance, the novel’s ideas are perhaps more fascinating and nuanced than their execution. The language, in both description and dialog, was overly simple at times and not as colorful or inventive as the conceit of the world itself. Nonetheless, the book’s huge character ensemble and multiple, high-energy storylines render it a fun continuation of the sci-fi adventure.
Unique world-building, myriad characters, and themes of natural balance versus technological advancement make Kip Koelsch’s BEYOND THE PALE BLUE SUN an engaging second-in-a-series novel.
~Remy Poore for IndieReader