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(Tangled Axon #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,500 ratings  ·  308 reviews
Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plas ...more
Paperback, 331 pages
Published December 4th 2013 by Masque Books (first published July 22nd 2013)
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This is what you need to know about Ascension, in a nutshell: a main character who is a queer woman of colour, grappling with a debilitating chronic illness in a context of poverty, who has a difficult relationship with her sister and starts to fall in love with another awesome female character who is polyamorous. IN SPACE.

If the above is not the definition of “shut up and take my money”, I don’t know what is.

Alana Quick is a sky surgeon in a crumbling shipyard who is forever worried about makin
AnHeC the Paperback Obliterator
Word count: about 98 000
Rating: By all means, do move at a glacial pace; you know how that thrills me

Book-ie provided by NetGalley

First of all BLURB is a lie!

The main problem with this book is it doesn’t know what it wants to be. A si-fi? A romance? An adventure? A philosophical story? Should we identify with/like the MC or just witness the events? If you try to be everything at once, you fail, like that flying fish with legs. (Wait, what? What fish? Well, exactly my point.) Reading this book
I've read a decent number of sci-fi books in the last couple of years but this is the first time the term "space opera" comes to mind.

Alana is a ship engineer living in poverty and barely has enough to buy the meds for her chronic
immune deficiency disease. She's always wanted to go to outer space but lack of opportunity has kept her planet bound. That is, until one space ship in particular calls to her and she can't help but stowaway and embark on an adventure she never bargained for.

This stor
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
rep: Black lesbian mc with a chronic illness & PTSD, disabled side character, polyam relationship

okay so listen:

* the main character is a black woman
* who’s an engineer
* and a lesbian
* she has a chronic illness
* ((and the narrative talks about how fucked are poor ppl who have it))
* she has a difficult relationship with her sister
* and suffers from ptsd
* there’s a character with a prosthesis
* also a woman
* seriously there are like two dudes
* and
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
Woman of Color on the cover? Check!
Science-fiction space opera? Check!
Lesbian protagonist who is PoC? Check!
Spaceships? Check!
What the hell else do I need? Oh yes, to buy this ASAP!
Already bought and totally engrossed? Check!
Loving Alana? Double-check!

Seldom am I at a loss for words, but OMG, this novel pushed ALL my happy science-fiction geek chick buttons in a way that I haven't experienced since the glorious day I discovered Octavia Butler more than twenty odd years ago! This novel jus
Sep 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
There are a lot of reasons to be excited about this book! I completely empathize with the author's stated intent: "[Jacqueline Koyanagi's] stories feature queer women of color, folks with disabilities, neuroatypical characters, and diverse relationship styles, because she grew tired of not seeing enough of herself and the people she loves reflected in genre fiction." I get that, and I want to read books by people who feel the same way I do! Unfortunately, Koyanagi's biggest goal is also where As ...more
K.J. Charles
I hugely enjoyed this. It's much more fantasy than sci-fi in the end, or at least it's far heavier on the mystical elements than the spaceship engineering, which is fine by me. The writing is pretty baroque at points, but I found it fluent and evocative, and I adored the heroine. It's almost as much romance as SFF, with lots of tension, although were I rating it as a romance I'd have wanted a bit more meat on the conflict's bones. Picky picky.

The other thing is, the diversity. Which I feel a bi
I got this from Netgalley a while ago, but my backlog is horrendous and I took so long to get round to reading it that I'm not sure if there's a place to upload my review anymore. Still, here I am, doing my bit for this novel. I enjoyed it a lot, read it in more or less one sitting. It helps that there's a POC on the cover, who is the protagonist -- who is also disabled and a lesbian; it helps that it's a story about all kinds of love -- sisterly, romantic, friendship. Polyamorous, monogamous... ...more
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
I had so many reasons for reading this - queer rep, women of color rep, chronic illness rep, etc. I've seen this book recommended for these very elements and it intrigued me. The beginning was great and got off with a bang, but then it took a left turn and became far more "space romance" than "sci fi adventure". This story has so many strong ideas and so much promise and I felt it was let down by weak writing and plot holes. I also thought some of the key elements - especially the handling of th ...more
Shira Glassman
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people looking for women-centered sci-fi
Recommended to Shira by: Natalie Luhrs
Ascension is an incredible book full of facets I never imagined from just the blurb. I'm growing increasingly dissatisfied with blurbs lately; this marks the third book that took me forever to read because the back jacket made it sound like an entirely different kind of story than it was.

At its core, this is a book about two incredibly different sisters who come to understand each other more while dealing with intense issues of life, death, pain management, and space technology. It's a book abou
Book Riot Community
This is the diverse, queer sci-fi novel you’ve (I’ve) been waiting for! This was so much fun to read. A sky surgeon (spaceship mechanic) sneaks onto a ship to try to get a job, but things don’t go according to plan, and she may accidentally be involved in the kidnapping of her own sister. The plot is entertaining (including alternate universes!), but what made it even better was reading this space adventure story from the perspective of a black lesbian with a chronic illness. Ascension just make ...more
From the blurb, a reader in search of diversity in SFF might think they hit the mother-lode. Indeed, you can see this reflected in the reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere -- queer! woman! of colour! with a disability! -- as we proclaim that, yes, the characters of Ascension are not like those of other genre fiction. (Or even: They're like me! being one who fulfils 3/4 of the above.) Unfortunately, those characters are not very interesting, nor do they do much of interest, and there is little worl ...more
Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi was an alright read that just needed more time spent in the planning stages. This book started out great, there was an interesting plotline about a woman with a chronic illness that struggled to afford to pay for her and her aunt's medication but she loved working on space ships and mechanical things so much, it was her calling in life. In order to have a better life for herself and her aunt, she stowaways on a ship looking for her sister, to attempt to talk the ...more
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
[ETA]Check out this inspiring and insightful interview with Ascension author Jacqueline Koyanagi!

Alana Quick is a sky surgeon, as evident by her long locs. She loves ships as one loves a significant other and has lost a few of the latter because she places her work first and foremost in her life. But she’s never actually left her homeworld in one. There is little money in her line of work, but she loves it too much to ever consider doing anything else and she refuses to sell out to Transliminal,
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
I powered through this one because I really WANTED to like it. A hard SF novel about a lesbian woman of color? What's not to like?

First, the world building was a mess. It's a very difficult task in any SFF novel, to balance the audience's need to know versus boring info dumps. Here it took so long for some things to be made explicit that the big reveals were robbed of their impact, because I had already assumed that what was being implied and forshadowed was actual fact. When it's revealed that
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
An affecting space opera with a diverse cast which reminded me of Firefly (and I don't very often say that). Loved the Alana/Nova dynamic, and the way people turned out to have hidden depths. ...more
Love isn't explainable with the brain. It just "is". There're no rules, no explanations and it's just a beautiful feeling.

This is one of the messages Jacqueline Koyanagi tells us with her novel "Ascension". Within we're following Alana Quick, a sky surgeon, which is Koyanagi's equivalent of a cheap, run-down engineer who works out of a small shop and has never seen space.
In addition to that, Alana has a painful illness and needs constant medication to manage her pain. Her life changes the moment
This book does a lot of interesting things very poorly. I appreciate the diversity of the cast, but I'd appreciate it more if that diversity didn't feel pasted on. The main character has a chronic pain disorder, but the symptoms disappear and reappear whenever it's convenient to the plot, allowing her to be an action hero as needed. At one point she breaks her ribs; then she falls in love, and this is apparently curative, because the injury is never mentioned again and certainly doesn't inhibit ...more
There were parts of this novel that I loved and thought were great; there are also parts that, well, needed some work--typical of first novels, in many ways.

What I liked:
- the writing was really lovely and sharp in parts, like "I moved my new clothes around to try to get comfortable in them, but it was a bit like using a broom to sweep up all the sand on the beach." I also especially liked how Koyanagi described Alana's feelings for ships, like they're beautiful women who might become her lover
Marianne (Boricuan Bookworms)
I'm really conflicted with Ascension . On the one hand, I loved the diversity and how it felt like Firefly .

I loved that Alanna was smart and strong. She was a queer black woman with chronic pain. She was a gifted mechanic. She was also poor, which made it easy for me to connect with her daily struggles.

Like I said above, I also loved the Firefly vibe that I got from the crew and the situation: they're criminals on a beat down ship on the run. I loved the idea of a "found" family. The crew
I think one of the reasons I loved this book so much was because I didn’t know much about it before reading it. So I’m not gonna give too much away. Just know that blurb doesn’t really reflect how amazing this book is.

It is so layered and so beautiful. It deals with poverty, pain, grief and so many different types of love.

The story is told by Alana’s pov, a woman who’s dealing with a chronic illness with a treatment far more expensive than she can afford and has loved the sky and the old ships
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cool worldbuilding alert! Ascension takes place in a universe where spaceship mechanics are called “sky surgeons” and the work is more personal and intuitive than cranking inanimate gears. Thus when Alana, a sky surgeon who’s never been off planet, stows away on a ship, she hopes to build a relationship not just with the crew but with the ship itself. As an uninvited guest, it takes her some time to ingratiate herself with the wildly varied cast of characters that call the ship home, but Alana c ...more
Sadie Forsythe
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Oh man, this book disappointed me so hard. When I first heard of it, I thought, "Lesbian POC as a main character? Hell yeah." Then someone referred to it as a lesbian Firefly and I ordered it the same day. Man, what a let down.

★Let's start with the writing, it's obscured, full of phrases like this: "His voice eventually tore in half, and he was quiet." What the hell does that mean? It meanders. It repeats itself. It's too flowery to be functional.

★Then there is the sex, which relates to the ob
Tudor Ciocarlie
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
In a genre full of perfect white heterosexual men, this book is a breath of fresh air. Because of her love for ships, stars and space, I've identified better with Alana, a queer woman of color with a disability, than with all the male characters in genre novels this year. ...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
I loved this! More of a 4.5 stars. Black lesbian main character with a chronic illness on an awesome space adventure?? More, please. I feel like tumblr has been begging for this particular book to exist. Highly recommended.
Danni Green
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What a treat to start off 2019 with such a great book. Imagine an iconic space opera (::cough:: Firefly), but written by a queer disabled woman of color and with characters who are also mostly queer disabled women of color. Adventures, explosions, running from the law, blurring of science and illusion...everything you could want from a good sci-fi action book, with eloquent explorations of timeless themes such as life/death, relationships, and the messiness of having a body. I'm excited to ...more
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book had some flaws, but the tone and the prose were so solid I was willing to ignore them. It's beautifully written, giving a sense from the very beginning of everything protagonist Alana has at stake: her love of ships, her family, her ability to work and live in a body that is slowly betraying her, her love of ships. I mentioned ships both first and last because the book itself is most vibrant when talking about starships and living "in the black" or "in the big quiet." They're lovely im ...more
Aelin Lovelace
I really loved this book.

A primarily female cast, POC, queer women, polyamory, disability, spirituality, all in an awesome sci fi setting -- what's not to love? I've been looking forward to this book for a long while.

Speaking as somebody who is disabled with not one but two pain conditions, I had a lot of sympathy for Alana. It felt dead on, and all too familiar. I have seen some criticism that nobody would be able to work through that much pain, but frankly, having worked through pain, you lear
Olga Godim
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
Objectively, this is a solid science fiction novel. The world is different. The characters are intriguing. The plot is slow but complex, with several interconnected ideas.
Subjectively, I didn’t like it: neither the world nor the characters. The protagonist Alana is a mechanic, specializing in repairing old space ships. She ekes out a poor existence on the edge of an unimportant city on an unimportant planet, until she stows away on a ship that lands in her repair lot.
I should also mention that
Mary K.
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
ASCENSION is a novel that beautifully takes the reader on a journey through the coveted Big Quiet (that’s space in layman’s terms) and, dare I say, beyond. Alana Quick is a sky surgeon (a space ship engineer, basically) in a time when many of the manual labor positions are being bought out by the big corporate group, Transliminal. Unfortunately, they have the market cornered because, just like themselves, the technology they’re pushing is from a different universe entirely, leaving sky surgeons ...more
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Jacqueline Koyanagi writes speculative fiction with an eye toward exploring consciousness, mortality, and embodiment. Her novel Ascension landed on the James Tiptree Jr. Honor List. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies by Haikasoru and Candlemark & Gleam, and she writes for multiple serials with Serial Box.

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