Although Light From Other Stars includes plenty of science fiction elements, it’s also a coming-of-age story, as the young Nedda gains a new understanding of her parents and then works to rescue them and the rest of her town. Juggling dual timelines, wonderful mid-1980s period details and a large cast of secondary characters, Swyler has set herself an ambitious task. But the novel is well-paced, with a satisfying twist near the end that readers are subtly prepared for but that still feels surprising.
The book’s science fiction elements scratch at the barriers between nightmares and dreams ... Both external and internal landscapes—including Florida orange groves in sweltering demise, the constrictions of womanhood, and deep space—are rendered with precision ... In the glorious and singular adventures of Light from Other Stars, such small pains may be as innumerable as the dots of fire that light our universe, but so, too, are possibilities. As the novel wends its way toward a Hawking-esque ending, it elicits wonder and sadness in turn.
... [will] appeal to those who don't usually read science fiction. There's also plenty of science for the faithful fans of the genre ... As a non-sci-fi reader, I found pleasure in Swyler's writing as well as her story.
... beautiful, horrifying ... full of tenderly written, emotionally wrenching passages --- moments that will stop readers in their tracks to remember, or cry, or simply marvel --- and is an exquisite example of science fiction’s capacity not only to make readers think but also to feel.
Light From Other Stars transcends the sci-fi genre; Swyler’s gorgeous writing expresses memory and feeling in a very precise and captivating way. Each character as well as their relationships with each other is fashioned with extreme actuality. While obviously well researched, some of the sci-fi elements seem unclear and incomplete; however, it is evident that Swyler is a natural at crafting transportive fiction. A poignant exploration of family and friendship, Light From Other Stars is unforgettable.
It’s a tale of science – of time and travel and matter – but it’s also a science-fiction adventure story, and a pretty gripping one, in which the heroes/scientists/survivors are principally the women. If fathers matter intensely, mothers do just as much ... Swyler connects the pain of losing a child rather like Betheen and Nedda constructing their salvation machine out of many pieces of old but freshly purposed equipment – with fluid readability and a powerful emotional drive. The science is delivered plausibly and persuasively. And Nedda’s personality, fused from her parents’ love and skills, their mistakes and her own individual nature, is charming both as adult and child ... For all its modernity – the ideas, the science, the female leads – this is, at heart, an old-fashioned romance of a story, and that heart can sometimes appear a soft one. Father/daughter love binds it. As doting parents and clear-eyed but adoring children part but never wholly separate so Swyler sends out a message of loving reassurance into the universe.
Erica Swyler’s Light from Other Stars...[will] appeal to those who don’t usually read science fiction. There’s also plenty of science for faithful fans of the genre ... As a non-sci-fi reader, I found pleasure in Swyler’s writing as well as her story ... Only a writer like Swyler, one who understands the human heart as well as she understands entropy and space travel, can write a book like Light from Other Stars—science fiction for the rest of us.
Note the coiled sentence structure, slightly parodic academic tone, and nested narration—all constant features of the novel. Leibniz’s every thought and action is mediated by a conjectural scrim, and the narrator sometimes draws on extant writings or other, more spurious, attributed language ... Sachs runs...perspectival recursions often, and while all are smart and some very funny, many only have the tone of being funny, and don’t really work. When they do, though, they follow an absurd and exuberant logical momentum and accrete surprising valences, like a cartoon snowball rolling downhill ... The Organs of Sense...turns out to be more than the sum of its parts. Sachs has written a misdirecting novel about the pleasures and perils of misdirection, and the contraption works exquisitely, proving that it is impossible to be a person on whom nothing is lost ... after uncountable moments of frustration, by the novel’s end, I was actually charmed to feel that I, like Leibniz, was the butt of some cosmic joke ... On the verge of throwing the book across the room, I would reach an unanticipated reprise or an incredible morsel of history or the end of a deftly completed feedback loop, cackle gleefully, and fall back in love.
... an introspective, thrilling yarn ... Swyler uses this inventive premise of a failed attempt to control the flow of time to limn the depths of grief and love in a strikingly fresh way that resonates long after the final page has been turned. This tale’s originality brings to mind the quintessential pioneering writer who used science to explore the human condition, Mary Shelley.
Keenly wrought characters and evocative prose complement a multifaceted plot that explores topics ranging from relativity and thermodynamics to parent-child relationships and the afterlife. Though Theo’s grief and ambition serve as a catalyst, it’s Nedda’s and Betheen’s passion, determination, and fortitude that drive the book to its heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring conclusion ... Grand in scope and graceful in execution, Swyler’s latest is at once a wistfully nostalgic coming-of-age tale and a profound work of horror-tinged science fiction.