Ceres is the third, and most polished entry in the Universe Eventual series by N. J. Tanger, a pseudonym for the writing team of Nathan Beauchamp, Joshua Russell and Rachel Tanger. The first two, Chimera and Helios, introduce us to the world of Stephen’s Point, the challenge to that colony and the push to send a fractal-class ship (think, a ship capable of finding and traversing a worm-hole trail) back to earth. Much of that book introduced us to the young people (late teens) who were to become candidates to make up the crew. In Helios we see that crew form and deal with a surprising new arrival from Earth. We see a mastermind sociopath’s impact on the crew as they prepare for what mysteries lie ahead on earth. Now a much-diminished crew turns its attention to the colony with an older predecessor to Chimera, Ceres. This colony on Damascene, has its own set of cultures and troubles. In Ceres, we see the seemingly disparate worlds of Damascene and that of the Chimera’s crew join together. (Note, this story will continue in Horus).
Ceres does everything a third book ought to do, namely extend storyline but develop it in new and exciting ways, continue to build the characters and their relationships, organically introduce new characters that make sense to this story and continue to build the tension. One of the ways that it continues to make this story fresh is through the new world of Damascene. The authors do a beautiful job of bringing these two disparate worlds with their respective storylines and weave them back and forth until they finally come together whole. The new world is interesting in and of itself; it has subcultures of interest, challenges that are intriguing and with fascinating bad guys (and good guys) and everything in between.
We really continue to witness the growth of characters that are on the Chimera and we become connected to those on Damascene. We’ve lost a little connection to those back on Stevens Point but these new characters more than make up for it. From what I’ve been able to surmise from the authors work so far, all of this patchwork will be made into whole cloth before their through.
World building is absolutely spot on in Ceres as are the characters and their relationships. Nothing is cookie-cutter or one dimensional. The narrative is developed builds to a crescendo. While this book is not the end of the series, they still have a clean finish to this part of the story even as they look to the next. The phrasing in the dialogue are quite fine without any awkwardness; the level of dialog fits the characters and their roles perfectly. Overall, the writing is well done.
This really is a tightly written story with a great narrative, characters with whom we connect and a stellar world to set it all in. I highly recommend it.
World Building: 5/5
A Little Book Music: I spent a good deal of time listening Han Zimmer’s Interstellar as well as his Inception while reading this. You also might want to try some of Maurice Jarre’s Lawrence of Arabia sountrack.