REVIEW : Novella – The Meaning Wars – A Queer Space Opera Book #3- Michelle Browne

Novella -The Meaning Wars Book Cover Novella -The Meaning Wars
A Queer Space Opera Book #3
Michelle Browne
Science Fiction, Space Opera, LGBTQ Fiction
Sept 3, 2021

Worlds collide and peace shatters in Book 3 of The Meaning Wars

On the way to a new wormhole-building gig, Crystal and her husband Jai fight over the future of their family. But the safe haven of their base is paradise compared to Pluto. Recovering from her imprisonment, Sarah and her cousin Toby try to scrape their lives back together and stay out of trouble on the icy planetoid. Rebel leader Patience Ngouabi's actions have triggered a growing insurrection on the colony planet of Indus, and the shock waves have reached even the Solar system's worlds. Both Crystal and Sarah will have to decide between uneasy peace and constant danger - if they get to choose at all.

Content advisory: this book contains references to abuse, sexual scenes, torture, and mental health issues. Reader discretion is advised.

Review By Ulysses Dietz

Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team

At the author’s recommendation, I picked up book three of this six-part series collectively called “The Meaning Wars.” Having read and enjoyed this installment of Michelle Browne’s self-styled “Queer Space Opera,” I would recommend starting with book one (And the Stars Will Sing)—simply because a lot is revealed in this fascinating, plot-driven story that might spoil the fun of the previous two.

Now, I’m not sure I get the “queer” part of Ms. Browne’s title, since (as an admittedly antediluvian Kinsey 6) there was barely a hint of same-sex yearnings here. For most readers on PRG, I’d imagine, this makes no difference, because Browne’s smart, dryly humorous storytelling immediately draws the reader into her fantastic futuristic world.

The central characters in this volume are Crystal Weiss and Sarah White. Crystal is a Mindsearcher for HuCon, the corporate abbreviation of the Human Conglomerate—the Earth-originated space colony development organization. Crystal and her husband Jai are on a mission, traveling through space as part of their jobs. Sarah, on the other hand, who is an old friend of Crystal’s, is working as a barmaid in a colony on Pluto. She is on the run, but why or from whom we don’t discover right away.

The author creates a vivid setting for the overlapping stories of these two young women in a world expanded as far as our imaginations could possibly go – clearly the legacy of Star Trek and Star Wars and all that went before. The cozy mundanities of everyday human life are intermixed with a cosmopolitan vision of an interplanetary life, humans interacting professionally and personally with a whole host of non-human species, whose cultures now form a normal part of the human experience.

The darker side to this story is the indelible human tendency to restrict and judge, an aspect of human culture that puzzles all non-human species. This is where Sarah and Crystal’s lives re-connect, as the shadow of a fabricated human moral order pushes into the natural ecumenism and diversity of space.

I’m being intentionally vague about this, because it needs to be discovered by the reader. Let’s just say that the author creates a particularly creepy combination of Puritanism and corrupted “healthy lifestyle” mantras recognizable to us all. If it wasn’t so scary, it would be funny.

Star Trek, back in the day, was visionary—but it was a vision that carried with it the shared belief that we (i.e. Americans, and hence Earth) were benevolent and wise, and were out to share our wisdom with the rest of the universe. In a world where few of us believe so innocently anymore, Michelle Browne’s more shadowy vision is both apt and unnerving.

Leave a Comment