An intriguing first contact scenario that includes benevolent parasites, space-faring eagles, and an advanced feline race
I had the pleasure of meeting Reid Minnich and his wife at Fursquared in 2020, right before the pandemic took hold and stopped our lives. We exchanged books with the promise to write reviews for each other. Reid followed through within about a month and wrote a nice review of The Sky Calls on Amazon for me. I, however, needed a bit more time, I’m sorry to say. It wasn’t until a trip last month, where I was completely off the grid for 9 days in the arctic, that I finally dug into some much-neglected reading. I was immediately sorry that I had not read Koinobi sooner– I had missed out.
The book opens in a rather unlikely place for sci-fi: The 1800s. You quickly learn that an insect-like being has been taking up residence in a line of humans for many centuries. This is no Stargate Goauld though– the creature is benevolent and has a plan to bring unity to the galaxy.
The insect-like Koinobi on the cover of the book threw me off at first. I’m a bird guy and I wasn’t sure I would like something involving intelligent insects. Then you learn that they are actually a “parasite” of sort that augments their human hosts and uses them for communication and action. After this, the first race that humans meet is eagle-like and I was hooked. I ate up the rest of the book in less than a day and I absolutely love the world he created for them. I like how Reid introduces the advanced tech, species, ships, method of space travel, etc. in a way that doesn’t overdo the details and allows the reader to create it in their own mind. I like how space travel is handled and that the avian environments are not the traditional 2D, bottom-up POV of humans. There are perches instead of seats, terminals mounted in positions inconvenient to people, and buildings where the customers enter through the top. I love it! It’s the way I tend to imagine it.
If there are any negatives, they are few and mild and have more to do with my personal preferences. One is that sometimes I feel rushed along a bit but for those that like the plot to move right along, that’s probably not a negative at all.
Along the same lines, I’d like a little more detail. In particular, I’m still a bit confused as to how the avian race actually looks. It’s cool that Reid lets you fill in the blanks, particularly with some of the fantasy tech, but when it comes to characters and environments, I could use a few more details. It would really be cool to know what he’s seeing in his mind’s eye.
The body horror that’s a component of Koinobi renewal was pretty bizarre at first as that’s not usually my thing. But it was not too graphic or prolonged and I grew to appreciate Reid’s creative way of handling the regeneration of these very strange creatures.
Overall, I loved the book and look forward to reading the other two in the series. If you like space-faring avians, felines (which I think are introduced in more detail in book 2), or first-contact scenarios, you will love it too.
You can buy all three books in audio, Kindle, or soft cover through Reid’s website. Thanks, Reid, for the fun book exchange and the helpful review. I now look forward to reading the other two books in this series.