Series: Cytonic Series
Author: Brandon Sanderson
I don’t know how, but somehow while happily binging all of the Skyward series, I totally missed the fact that there is a prequel novella available to readers. Did you know this?! Defending Elysium takes place countless years before the events of Skyward, and it helps to set the scene.
First contact. It’s a story we’ve seen hundreds of times in dozens of different ways. Yet it is unlikely that anyone expected it to go down this way. A government official made first contact with an alien race but a telephone company.
This changed the course for the human race and all government systems from that moment onward. Years later, the human race now has FTL communication and the ability to travel the stars, thanks to The Phone Company. But one operative, Jason Write, can sense that there is something more going on behind the scenes.
“An image came to him. An image of humankind escaping into space. An image of human merchants trading and cheating, of human tyrants capturing the Varvax, Tenasi, and Hommar. Images of wars, of fighting, of a paradise destroyed.”
I’m still completely blown away by the fact that I nearly missed Defending Elysium (thank goodness I caught Brandon Sanderson’s post talking about it!). I do feel like Defending Elysium answered so many questions I had about the world (er, universe?), the way humans dealt with/contacted aliens, and even the introduction of cytonics.
Granted, it also raised plenty of other questions along the way. Thankfully, three more books and novellas (with one final novel to come) further flesh out those details. In a way, I’m almost happy to have read these in a bit of a backward order.
The whole Phone Company subplot really tickled me; I’m not going to lie. At this point, I thought I had seen it all when it comes to first contact stories – but clearly, I was wrong. While admittedly, that was my favorite part of the novella, I did enjoy Jason’s story. Especially as I got to see what it was like to be a cytonic before they were all eradicated or locked up.