“Humans were made of contradictions.”
One of the most popular aspects of science fiction novels is their attempt to grapple with what it means to be human. Stina Leicht takes this topic to a whole new level in Persephone Station, creating a story around a wide range of characters with diverse gender identities, different backgrounds, and varying levels of humanity. Leicht goes to great lengths to make this thrilling space opera as inclusive as possible with its cast of kick-butt women, nonbinary, and queer characters teaming up to fight the corporate overlords of the almost lawless planet, Persephone.
Over a century ago, the Emissaries, hidden beings indigenous to the planet, gifted prolonged life to Rosie, a nonbinary cleric-colonizer, and Vissia, the future head of a corporation that owns Persephone. Unfortunately, because of complications attached to this gift, Vissia is bent on exploiting the Emissaries, stealing their technology, and eliminating them from their planet. To fulfill a promise they made a century ago, the now crime boss and owner of Monk’s Bar, Rosie, hires a group of mercenaries to protect the Emissaries at all costs.
This group of ex-soldiers turned mercenaries is led by Angel de la Reza.
A former United Republic of Worlds marine, trained as a fighter in an all-girls martial arts school, she is witty, rugged, and quick to steal the reader’s heart. Angel believes that once honor is lost, there is no regaining it. As a result, she has an almost impossible to break habit of doing the right thing regardless of the circumstances.
Angel’s crew consists of Sukyi, a wild-card from Nigeria who is terminally ill and loves to blow things up, Lou, an adrenaline junky pilot, and Enid, a skillful assassin with an incredibly dry sense of humor.
In addition to Angel’s squad, Rosie enlists the help of the child of a respected scientist whose groundbreaking work permitted artificial intelligence to possess empathy. Kennedy Liu herself is a genetically-edited AI placed in a human body. Through her awkward attempts at understanding what having a human body entails, we get some hilarious moments as she experiences universal human emotions and the bodily reactions associated with them.
In Persephone Station, Leicht builds a fantastical world rooted in well-known human failures.
The book addresses the grisly business of expansion, displacement, and the question of who the actual alien is. Although there are moments where it felt like this novel was trying to do and be too much (inclusive, action-packed, and chock-full of social commentary), Leicht’s ability to write complex and entertaining characters kept me engaged and made the book impossible to put down. Leicht’s novel is extremely relevant now as exploitation and violence plague our own planet.
If you were hoping for a romance heavy book as our February review, I’d love to recommend Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell as an alternative science fiction option. Otherwise, I truly hope you give Persephone Station a chance, if only to experience a novel with the diversity that’s often missing in science fiction. Share your thoughts on Leicht’s book over some elderflower cosmos with friends this month. Try our recipe at home, or ask one of the fantastic bartenders at The Rellik Tavern to make you theirs!
- 3 oz Gin
- 2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
- 2 oz Cranberry Juice Cocktail
- 1 ½ oz Lime Juice
- Lime Twist
- (optional) Rose Quartz Pink Prism Powder by Fancy Sprinkles
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add gin, St. Germain, cranberry juice, and lime juice.
- Cover and shake vigorously. (20 seconds)
- Add a pinch of prism powder to two martini glasses. (optional)
- Strain cocktail into the martini glasses and garnish with a lime twist.
Persephone Station Mocktail
- 6 oz Raspberry Lemonade
- 6 oz Grapefruit Juice
- 3 oz Lemon-Lime Soda
- Add ice to a mason jar.
- Pour raspberry lemonade, grapefruit juice, and lemon-lime soda over the ice.
- Stir in a pinch of pink prism powder. (optional)