Review: Destiny's Cradle

A generation-ship story, but not without its problems.

The premise of the plot is really quite good. Tales of generation ships (spaceships travelling to star systems at sub-light speed and taking hundreds or thousands of years to do so) aren't new, but this one starts off with the fact that something went wrong along the way and you gradually discover what throughout.

There are some issues with the book that I just couldn't ignore, though.

For instance: repetition. I get how, in real life, someone will experience something and then re-tell it to others. As a reader, though, we don't like having to read a character explaining to another something you've only just read. There could be exceptions, for instance if the author wants to show you how the character is lying, but that was never the case in this book. Much later in the book, the author seemed to have understood this and used the shorthand "X explained to Y what happened" but by then the damage was done.

Structurally, the book starts in the "present" of around the year 3300 and spends a lot of time getting you embedded with the characters and world there. It then jumps back a thousand years to the politics and reasons behind making the ship in the first place. (Considering how lazy our world is about a climate emergency that’s happening right now, the notion of so much political and financial spending on a fantastically long-term project because of a projected calamity thousands of years in the future is for the birds.)

I actually quite liked this section, but as it took half the book to tell, when we made it back to the "present" I'd forgotten a lot about those characters. Personally, I think regularly dipping back and forth between those timelines would have been better.

My last niggle is about assumptions made. These are not things that are overtly said, but they are easily found in the book. The only character who has their skin colour described is the one and only black person. In a scene at a science convention, the men there were surprised at a woman being present, and the single disabled person mostly just sits around doing nothing until they are ecstatic at being healed. There are also inconsistencies throughout, either on spelling (racquet and racket are used interchangeably) or physics (laser pistols knocking people over, or not). These are all issues which could easily have been avoided.

Some reviewers have complained about the potential setup for a future book in the series. I personally don't mind that, as the story does come to a conclusion and leaving the back door open to explore more in the future is just common sense.

So, after all that... did I like the story? Yes, I did. But I didn’t love it.