Some of you may remember I hosted Wayne Basta several months ago for his blog tour in honor of the release of the second book in the Aristeia series. I bought Kindle copies of both Revolutionary Right and A Little Rebellion back then, and then I also won the contest he was holding and I got a hardcover, signed copy of each book delivered to my door (along with two other hardcover books from his publisher, Grey Gecko Press — A Fancy Dinner Party, edited by Hilary Comfort, and The Dying of the Light: End by Jason Kristopher).
I started reading the first Aristeia book, Revolutionary Right, on July 1st, but I didn’t finish it till September 11. This isn’t a reflection on Basta’s writing; it’s a reflection on my very slow reading rate. I’m terrible at finishing books quickly. Especially when I’m moving.
I thoroughly enjoyed Revolutionary Right and dove right into the next one, A Little Rebellion. Life has unfortunately been ridiculously busy this month (I’ve spent all of six nights in my new place), so I haven’t had much time to sit down and read. I’ve been reading the Kindle edition while traveling on the ferries, if I haven’t been napping in my car, and when I’m home I read the hardcopy.
Mild spoilers ahead.
If you go read that first post I linked, which is Wayne’s stop at Bacon and Whiskey on his tour, you can see why he chose Aristeia as the title for his series. I’ll quote the pertinent part below for those of you who are browsing this on your phone.
Aristeia (Greek): is a scene in the dramatic conventions of such works as the Iliad in which a hero in battle has his finest moments
So each book follows the aristeia of a particular character. The first book follows Maarkean Ocaitchi’s aristeia as he decides to rebel against the Alliance and finds out he’s not as patriotic as he thought. He got into this business of outright rebellion because his sister was in prison, and he wanted to bust her out. Then the Alliance pushes down hard against its citizens, and disbands planetary governments — which is not legal, or just, and Maark flips his shit. By which I mean he says “Oh, that is IT,” and becomes fully committed to the cause of rebellion.
The second book follows the path of Maarkean’s sister, Saracasi Ocaitchi, as she decides what sort of person she wants to be: idealist or revolutionary; peaceful or warlike.
I haven’t finished it yet, and I can honestly say I don’t know what path Saracasi will take — it’s obvious she’s committed to the cause, but she may decide to help in a background sort of role by building ships for the rebel army. I’m intrigued to find out what she chooses, and I also want to see where her fledgling romance with Asirzi goes.
This book, and the one before it, has a good cast of characters. They’re complex, real people — nothing is black and white. There are characters who are truly committed to the cause of the rebellion, and there are characters who are in it because their friends or family are, and loyalty is enough of a reason. I love the developing bromance between Maarkean and Zeric Dustlighter, and how oblivious each man can be while still being an effective leader. Gu’od and Gamaly are definitely in my list of favorite fictional married couples.
Finally, each book passes the Bechdel test, which is important. (Yes, alien females count as females if that alien species is binary-gendered, or has a gender system that includes female as a gender. This is according to the rules I just made up.) There is a meaningful presence of women in the story — even when the main character of the first book is Maarkean, and a good portion of Revolutionary Right follows him and Zeric. In my opinion, passing the Bechdel test is the mark of a thoughtful storyteller who values the presence of women. So long as we live in a culture that continually centers men’s voices, experiences, and lives, while pushing women to the margins, the importance of the Bechdel test cannot be understated.
If you like science-fiction that’s fun, exciting, and isn’t afraid to explore the ideas of democracy, rebellion, and justice in an oppressive society, then you’ll like Basta’s Aristeia series. I highly recommend you click the links above and pick up a copy for yourself.