Li Liang has found a berth to suit her: chief pilot and first officer of the all-female crew of an old space freighter, the Sappho. Then one ordinary, unremarkable morning, Liang retunes the Sappho’s communications systems just in time to catch the breathless, terrible accounts from Mars of the total destruction of Earth.
Earth’s a cinder. The unknown alien race that destroyed it has left Mars, too, in flames and is ravening outward from the solar system, devouring every human colony on the way.
Liang’s one of the few survivors, racing ahead of the Devourers, rescuing as many frightened, shocked people as she can. Will Liang and the pitiful remnants of humanity find a new haven, somewhere to start again? Or will she, too, echo the dreadful last message coming out of their dead home?
They’re coming. Oh God, they’re coming.
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Oh my gosh there’s so much emotion in these short stories. I adored reading these three stories showing the history of how Earth went dark and the flight of the humans that were left in the Shield series. My heart was pounding throughout each of the stories as we find out what’s happening, get scared as people are evacuated, and worry as they make contact with multiple planets over the course of their years in space. Li Liang was a character I connected with immediately. All three stories are from her point of view and you really connect with her right from the beginning. Watching her grow the longer they’re running was wonderful. Seeing her relationships evolve in each store was so sweet. It also wasn’t the focus of the story which I loved because we get more story and more world development. By the end of the third story I’ve got major hope for these characters. You know they eventually find somewhere to land and set up a new civilization or there wouldn’t be a Shield series. But I now also want to see more Li and Alice, know if Matt ever sees past the sunflowers, find out how long it takes them to get to where they’re going, do the P’Nat’r help and what happens to the Devourers? I feel I’ll always want to see how Ms. Butler takes the characters and expands the world she created. And that’s a glorious thing.
Four and a half
Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.