Vast by Linda Nagata

Vast [3.5/5]
by Linda Nagata
(Bantam Spectra August 1998)

Set aboard Null Boundary, an ancient starship, the story largely takes place in transit as the varied crew attempts to flee the alien Chenzeme, a threat that has exterminated or infected most of humanity. At the same time, they seek the source of the Chenzeme in the hopes they might find some way to stave off their own destruction. This is set in the same universe as the author’s Locus Award-winning novel, Deception Well.

An appropriate title – not only does the ship cover a vast amount of distance but hundreds of years pass in the course of this story. It is amazing that the author managed to maintain the pace as long as she did, and quite well, for the most part. However, I felt about 2/3rds of the way through the book, when the ship reaches its apparent goal, that the rest of the story seemed to lack narrative impetus. In addition, the range of characters is at first intriguing, but one realizes over the course of the novel how little they emotionally evolve, which is frustrating when there are so many opportunities for them to do so. Despite this, the ideas explored herein, both in terms of science fiction and philosophy, kept me reading. The author certainly has a talent for exploring the mental landscape.

Percentage-wise, science fiction commands only a small part of the speculative fiction market; and good science fiction is hard to find. Though this won’t make my recommended list, if you like your science fiction large in scope and full of fascinating concepts, I’d judge it a worthwhile read.

One Response to “Vast by Linda Nagata”

  1. Jvstin Says:

    I read this quite a while ago, and pretty much agree with your rating, and your comments. Not spectacular, but a decent read.

    (I gave it 6 out of 10 as I recall).