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REVIEW: The Adam Initiative – Les Gould

The Adam Initiative - Les Gould

Genre: Sci Fi, Generation Ship

LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian

Reviewer: Scott

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About The Book

Traveling between the stars takes generations and a tightly controlled population balanced on the edge of a knife between dying out and outgrowing the ship’s limited resources. For the colony ship, Endurance, the Longevity program has successfully managed the size of all-female crew population for more than twenty generations.

Until now.

Concerns rise when Longevity ramps up the birth rate, but when the next generation doesn’t look like the others, it’s up to Doctor Cynthia Synclara to figure out why before drastic measures are taken.

Twenty generations is a long time and the crew of the Endurance has forgotten many crucial details about life on their home planet, Earth.

If Cynthia can’t uncover the knowledge they lost, this next generation may be the last.

The Review

I met Les Gould at a ConTinual panel recently on writing queer characters who just happen to be LGBTQ – where their identity is not central to the plot. In the middle of the panel, she held up her book The Adam Initiative, a generation ship book with an all female crew.

Generation ship?

My ears perked up. My own readers will know I’ve written a whole trilogy around the idea, so I was eager to see what Les did with the idea.

It’s an easy read at just 78 pages. I’ll give away the central premise, as it’s obvious to the outside reader within the first couple pages. There’s a child born with a birth defect (ie male, not female), and no one knows what the baby’s strange appendage means.

It falls to Dr. Cynthia Synclara to take a deep dive into the ship’s records and run a bunch of tests to finally figure out what’s happening.

Although the punchline is telegraphed at the start, it’s fascinating to watch the protagonist chase down leads as she struggles to square the ship’s insistence that the infant is healthy and normal with what she’s clearly seeing as a birth defect. The lesbian identities in these characters are obvious but also not the point, and I loved how Gould handled them.

The book shares some storytelling DNA with SI Clarke’s Devon Island books, and I’m doing my best to get these authors in the same room to talk. :)

My only complaint is that it wasn’t long enough – I hope Les revisits this universe and gives us more tales about this gen ship, how it was launched and why, what happened along the way, and how things work out on the other side. There are some fascinating dynamics at play here, especially after this tale, as the crew tries to navigate raising sons instead of just daughters.

The Adam Initiative is a fun, rewarding treasure hunt of a book with a great ending that, although it contains no great surprise, still caps the tale off quite nicely.

And if you love generation ship tales like I do, you’ll find this novella especially rewarding!

The Reviewer

Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.  

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