BOOK REVIEW: NO LIFE BUT THIS / AUTHOR: ANNA SHEEHAN / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Anna Sheehan's sequel to The Long, Long Sleep arrives three years later and is a 'standalone' sequel, meaning you don't necessarily need to have read A Long, Long Sleep but it might help you gain a grounding of the complex sci-fi world Sheehan has created which features in both novels.
The Long, Long Sleep featured Rose Fitzroy who upon being awakened from a deep hyper sleep finds out that she is the heir to an empire and finds herself struggling to be relevant in a society so radically different from what she remembers. The futuristic world of A Long, Long Sleep and No Life But This span an entire galaxy. While No Life But This' focus is drawn to Otto Sextus and a group of survivors from the Europa Experiment. Otto is dying as a result of the experiment and the small chance he has to save his own life lies in the hands of Rose.
While lead character Otto can only communicate by touching people to telepathically talk or occasionally whisper, he is never the true focus, either to himself or to the reader. His love for Rose permeates through the book and Rose remains the central character which is an intriguing concept to pull off balancing both Otto's struggle and Rose, who is maturing while trying to remain an integral part of the world
While Sheehan has crafted a detailed, living futuristic world it is in her character's complexities that there is the most interest in. For good sci-fi is always rooted in humanity. While some of the descriptions about the world grow tiresome, the characters never do. No Life But This starts off with an Emily Dickinson poem 'I have no life but this, to lead it here, Nor any death but lest, Dispelled from there' and it’s a stunningly astute correlation to the characters in the book. Otto's struggle to fight his fate and find meaning with Rose and his life.
No Life But This focuses on the humanity (and lack thereof) of characters. Otto's struggle to find his answers is bitter-sweet and the romance between Otto and Rose is compelling and well-drawn out. The prose has a natural flow and Otto's perspective creates a great insight into the story and a unique perspective which differs from The Long, Long Sleep.
No Life But This is a deep and emotionally complex sci-fi novel, though it remains relevant with its unique perspective on humanity, hope and love grounding it's characters in humanity while they daunted by this interplanetary empire.