Callisto 2.0 (Book Review)
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
4 / 5 Stars
Speculative Fiction/Women’s Fiction
I received this ARC from the author in exchange for a fair review.
A feast for speculative fiction readers interested in a realistic portrayal of life within a space station/lunar colony, Callisto 2.0 is a scientific foray into living in space.
The story follows Callisto, a physicist who is recruited to work on FTL tech on the Shambhala Space Station in 2097. Her enthusiasm suffers when her first discovery is unexpected heartbreak. She throws herself into her work and blossoms in the utopian female community. But conspiracy and betrayal threaten her position and her sense of self.
This novel is the most hybrid version of two genres I've ever read. It is equally a science-based hard speculative fiction as it is a women's fiction focusing on Callisto’s internal struggle and interpersonal relationships. The writing is clear and concise.
I don’t read a lot of women’s fiction. In truth, I think I’ve read maybe two in my life, but this is one that I did enjoy because of the sci-fi elements. These aspects were well-researched, realistic, and quite interesting. Unfortunately, the first half contains a lot of info-dumping, as a lot of the dialogue is people explaining stuff to one another, whether it’s about their personal lives or the science of the station. I’m not sure how else it could have been approached though, given so much of the story is based on science, but I did keep wondering when the plot was going to “pick up”. There are a couple of didactic discussions around toxic masculinity and religion, which were on par with my views but slowed down the story a little. It's not like I wasn’t bored or frustrated, but I was hoping for a bit more intrigue or tension.
Likewise, there is hardly any conflict in this novel until the very end (when shit gets real). While simple resolutions of interpersonal conflict suited the “utopian” setting, I wanted a bit more “story” outside of Calli’s love life. I think had the major source of conflict happened earlier, or if red herrings about the Foundation were provided throughout to give Calli a cause for concern, it might have carried a bit more tension. Around 70% a true conflict did arise, one that I was kind of expecting, but I won't say what happens due to spoilers. I will say that the ending makes me really want a sequel.
I did enjoy the idea of an all-women space station and I loved the diversity in the cast. Almost everyone was of a different race and culture. As Calliso is a lesbian, this is a definitively LGBTQ+ book too. These aspects I very much enjoyed. Every woman was described as “beautiful”, which felt a little repetitive, but this might be Calli’s perspective, being single for so long.
Overall, I thought it was a different and interesting approach to speculative fiction. While it strayed too far into women’s fiction at times for me, a reader who loves both these genres will likely adore this novel. I’m interested to see where the rest of the series goes.
Thank you again to the author for reaching out. Check out her website where she has some fun character sketches as well as cool videos about some of the science!