Final installment from Philip K Dick Award-nominated series from Ada HoffmannTime is running out for the planet Jai.
The artificially intelligent Gods who rule the galaxy have withdrawn their protection from the chaos-ravaged world, just as their most ancient enemy closes in. For Yasira Shien, who has devoted herself to the fragile planet’s nascent rebellion, it’s time to do or die – and the odds are overwhelming.Enter Dr. Evianna Talirr.
Talirr, the visionary who decimated the planet and began its rebellion, is not a woman to be trusted. But she’s returned with an unsettling prophecy: the only way to save Jai is for Yasira to die.
Yasira knows it can’t be that simple. But as she frantically searches for other options, what she finds will upend everything she knew about the Gods, the galaxy she lives in, and herself.
The Infinite is the final installment of The Outside trilogy, by Ada Hoffman, a really satisfying conclusion to this series. Space opera with a mix of cosmic horror, in the style of the science-fantasy genre I love, explores themes such as godhood and humanity in unexpected ways.
The story gets picked after Jai planet declares itself in rebellion against AI Gods, and in retribution, Gods decide to withdraw their protection over the chaotic planet, just in time when an enemy that could annihilate it entirely approaches. For Yasira Shein, and the Seven that accompany her, it's the moment to start exploring what they can do in order to prevent this destruction.
Characters are one of the main strengths of Hoffman's writing. The sudden return of Dr Evianna Talirr, and the solution she proposes to save Jai will create a big dilemma in Yasira's mind, as it requires possibly the biggest sacrifice in order to save the rebellion. We can see Yasira struggling to make a decision on it, as the price she would have to pay is too high; but at the same time, she feels as if she was a selfish person, putting herself over the rest.
We are also able to spectate how the rest of the group work and explore themselves other options, making use of the hatch. Some of them have to unleash their real potential, some may bring outside help, which is a great excuse to also explore the Universe of the Outside.
There are also some flashbacks that allow us to know more about how the AI Gods were created, the intentions behind this process, and how it this derivated in the current ones, from the perspective of one of their creators. As said, humanity vs godhood is a recurring theme of this novel, putting in contraposition how little an individual can be in comparison with the universe.
The plot gets developed in a really natural way, adding those flashbacks in the middle of narration, helping to also give a breath to the reader. As long as we advance, we can see how what we thought was the reality and what it was believed about the enemy may not be close to the truth, letting us with a final quarter that becomes really engaging, finishing with a literal apotheosis, a bittersweet ending that feels super appropriate for the series.
Again, I think The Infinite is an absolute experience of a book and a must for lovers of space operas. Ada Hoffman has written a satisfying final book, which has fulfilled perfectly what I expected from it.
Ada Hoffmann is the author of the space opera novel THE OUTSIDE, as well as dozens of speculative short stories and poems. They are an autistic self-advocate, an adjunct professor of computer science, a former semi-professional soprano, tabletop gaming enthusiast, and LARPer. They live in eastern Ontario.