A dying universe.
When the Homeworlds finally achieved the technology to venture out into the stars, they found a graveyard of dead civilizations, a sea of lifeless gray planets and their ruins. What befell them is unknown. All Home knows is that they are the last civilization left in the universe, and whatever came for the others will come for them next.
A search for answers.
Scout is an Archivist tasked with scouring the dead worlds of the cosmos for their last gifts: interesting technology, cultural rituals—anything left behind that might be useful to the Home worlds and their survival. During an excavation on a lifeless planet, Scout unearths something unbelievable: a surviving message from an alien who witnessed the world-ending entity thousands of years ago.
A past unraveled.
Blyreena was once a friend, a soul mate, and a respected leader of her people, the Stelhari. At the end of her world, she was the last one left. She survived to give one last message, one final hope to the future: instructions on how to save the universe.
An adventure at the end of a trillion lifetimes.
With the fate of everything at stake, Scout must overcome the dangers of the Stelhari’s ruined civilization while following Blyreena’s leads to collect its artifacts. If Scout can’t deliver these groundbreaking discoveries back to the Archivists, Home might not only be the last civilization to exist, but the last to finally fall.
The Last Gifts of the Universe is a delicious sci-fi novel, written by Rory August. A really emotional adventure, following Scout, an Archivist tasked with visiting the dead worlds in search of the last gifts of disappeared civilizations, in the company of his brother (Keiran) and his cat, Pumpkin (and seriously, what an adorable feline).
This book takes you on a travel across the stars, as Scout finds a message from one of the disappeared civilizations, that makes them look for the rest of it, as it could be key to understanding the key for the salvation of the currently existing species. But to be honest, plot is not really important, as our real travel will be across the emotions of our characters.
Grief, joy, and loneliness are some of the feelings explored through August's prose; both stories, Scout's and the one from Blyreena, are ways to dive deep into those feelings and the experiences that might provoke them.
I feel this book is difficult to classify, because it is in a middle ground between cozy and mystery, but at the same time, it has some really tense moments.
The universe created by August is one in decadence, which is getting eaten by an unknown evil, and plenty of civilizations have disappeared as a consequence. Humanity is partly controlled by the economic interests of some big companies, and in that niche, is why Archivists' labour is important, as they want to make information accessible.
The Last Gifts of the Universe is a novel that shows the enormous talent of Rory August. If you are looking for a short book, but fully of emotions, do yourself a favour, and pick this one.
Disclaimer: The SPSFC2 score might differ from the star rating. This review only represents my personal opinion.
Rory August is a speculative fiction writer, animal lover, nature walker, and all around nerd. When they aren’t writing stories about lonely voyages through space, you can find them playing video games, the guitar, or a myriad of TTRPGs. They live in Rhode Island with their cat and husband. The Last Gifts of the Universe is their debut novel.