I’ve said before that Angel Martinez has become one of my favorite go-to authors for a bit of light-hearted, fluffy fun with The Brimstone Journals and Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters. Her book The Mage on the Hill was more serious, and I enjoyed it immensely.
The short science fiction novella Eating Stars turned out to be strange, unexpected, and kind of adorable. Despite a having a more serious undertone than the usual fare I seek from her and some unique alien anatomy, Martinez writes achingly believable characters in this quick read.
Deadly enemies pursue a peaceful group of diverse alien refugees across the vast reaches of space, where they crash land on Earth in emergency vehicles. Recently widowed music professor Serge Kosygin is jolted out of his isolated haze of mourning when one of these escape pods thunders to earth near his home. Two of the three refugees are killed in the crash, and having seen too many alien autopsy videos, Serge can’t bear the thought of the last injured visitor dying as scientists wait to dissect the body and resolves to care for them until the end.
Een, the injured Aalanan (a sentient being who feeds on sunlight and reproduces like a plant), knows his mates were killed in the crash landing. He is grateful to this gentle human who has taken him in. Their communication develops first through music, then through data and language as Een begins to heal. Serge and Een have a common bond in their respective grief and the fascination each feels for the other. Fascination turns to fondness, and when agents in black suits come knocking on the door, Een and Serge fear they will be forcefully separated. A misunderstanding and an attack lead to serious physical consequences for Een. Serge must force himself out of his solitary comfort zone to save Een’s life before it’s too late.
This story was fun to read, though I’m ashamed to confess being giggly amused at the particular biological condition Een develops, which was meant to be deadly serious. I am perpetually a child in that way, I suppose. Alien-human lovemaking is a tricky thing to write, and Ms. Martinez does it very well, making it arousing and just uncomfortably weird enough to be a unique experience. The last act of the book refreshingly subverts some sci-fi tropes, teases with others, and ends on an affirming note of love and hope.
If you’re a fan of M/M sci-fi romance, this novella will definitely not disappoint.
EATING STARS is available from Amazon, Kobo, and Apple Books.