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Astral Fall

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A hundred-year interplanetary war receives little attention from the military’s greatest warriors.

Until five of them devise a secret plan to end it.

From Midwest Book Review:
"Think the classic Ender's Game, but without any attempt to mimic Orson Scott Card's scenarios or success. Think a military battle structure holding the epic confrontations of Lord of the Rings, complete with its promise of multiple series books; yet with an attention to intricate detail that belays the (too-often) hasty series production. There is no artificial division of action felt in Astral Fall.

Without providing spoilers, suffice it to say that Astral Fall attempts to identify, address, and turn upside down reader preconceptions of [...] the nature of military sci-fi as a genre. And, it succeeds.

Astral Fall is highly recommended for any military sci-fi fan looking for superior writing and fresh, original plots."
- Midwest Book Review, Diane Donovan

293 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 2016

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About the author

Jessica Mae Stover

5 books160 followers
Jessica Mae Stover is the author of Impress of the Seventh Surge and the novel series Astral Fall, and the screenwriter-director of the sci-fantasy movie ARTEMIS ETERNAL, as well as the founder of the associated production startup. Her additional work and dailies, as well as her online community, can be found at her official site, on Twitter @JSto, and her Patreon, WIZARDS.

Astral Fall

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5 stars
21 (43%)
4 stars
16 (33%)
3 stars
6 (12%)
2 stars
2 (4%)
1 star
3 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Bria.
487 reviews
November 10, 2016
This was a completely new take on an intergalactic world and I hope it wins an award so it'll become more popular.

This book does a couple key things differently than most series do, which may have made it less popular, but have also made it unique:

World-building: This book does not give pages and chapters of world-building and character building. Stover basically throws you into and the world and says "figure it out". This made the first 50 pages seem terribly confusing, but after a while the book made sense and you feel a sense of accomplishment as a reader for figuring it out and not having the author spoon-feed you a story.
Its still pretty strange to not have the world, the war, or really anything explained because its so unlike the other series popular today. Dune spends forever setting up the world, so does the Wheel of Time series, Game of Thrones, etc. In this book we do not receive a narrator's view, multiple viewpoints or overall view. We are left to what each particular main character knows, which really isn't all that much. The big picture is left on the way side. There is so much to learn and so much going on, that as a reader you don't feel cheated. Instead you have a front seat show to an intergalactic adventure in a brand new sci-fi universe filled its own unique details, military and planets as you follow an elite military unit.

Characters: Its pretty obvious from the beginning that Stover knows how the military works. She uses their lingo, does a great job of demonstrating their training and loyalty, and makes this the real focus of the book. Politics and individual character goals are not really explained. These characters are Soldiers who literally eat, sleep and train in a continuous rotation. This is probably my favorite aspect of the book. SO MANY young adult novels try to tell the reader how experienced and elite their forces are, but can't demonstrate it either because the author doesn't have the knowledge or experience to do so. Stover does. Her soldiers train everyday, have a specific diet, and know their gear down to the nanoparticle because they have to trust their lives with it. YA authors could take a lesson from Stover. Just saying your character is elite isn't enough. They need to train often and in difficult settings. You can't just take months off or have your love interest get in the way. There is a certain caliber that are elite and it takes actual work and dedication to get there. You can't be deadly when you sit around eating and moaning about your love interest all day every day (hint:Rebel Queen, [red book:A Court of Thorns and Roses|16096824], The Bone Season, The Hunger Games, Red Queen, Legend, Grave Mercy, Throne of Glass okay I think I've made my point.)

Even with the confusion, there was a thrilling undercurrent to this book. So many questions are not answered and mysteries that are left unsolved that I wanted to read more! I hope the next book widens the amount of characters and views the reader sees of this world.
Profile Image for Jessica Mae Stover.
Author 5 books160 followers
March 20, 2023
late 2022/early 2023 Update Astral Fall placed in the SPSFC top 10 out of 280 for design! https://thespsfc.org/2022-best-covers🏅 Work on Astral Fall 2 is underway! More below…

August 2022 Update: (for readers who love to be informed) Back to working on Astral Fall 2. More below on the timing for when you might want to read this book! In the meantime... Impress of the Seventh Surge is on the reading list for some awards in its category.

2022 Uupdate: As promised, it’s here!🔥

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6... ☣️


New scifi novel!

Twitter link that has everything to do with Seventh Surge so far in images, including the synopsis, and quickly scrollable https://twitter.com/JSto/status/15296...

This is something that the pandemic brought on, and I felt I had to do immediately. I won’t go on about how the pandemic messed with writers as I’m sure you’ve heard already.

NEXT!: Work on Astral Fall #2 is/was ongoing between novella phases and will resume immediately after. More notes below!

As I get closer to the edit cycle on book #2, new readers might want to hold out to read book #1 and #2 together because as noted above on the book's Q&A, the series is episodic at times. Here's where to shelve book #2! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... Book #2 is already available for pre-order on iBooks (other outlets to come).
At the same time, it's also true that purchases of book #1 do indeed help the rest of my publishing slate move forward. Hope this helps you new visitors decide what's best for your reading experience!

Thank you to my early adopters/readers and Patreon patrons who continue to help make it possible for me to approach publishing in a way that allows me to protect the production process and story. 🌌
Profile Image for Lee.
351 reviews188 followers
November 22, 2016
I don't know where to begin with this review as this book is unlike any I have read before. Believe me when I say that I have read a lot of scifi so that is unusual in itself.

So what is different? Well, i'll try and explain what Stover is creating here and i'll say right now, you can tell she has a lot of books in this series in mind, you can just feel it. So a brief overview: This is a high tech military book, absolutely packed full of acronyms like SOP and KTNO, it is also full have high military speak, so Space Opera it is not. I have no idea what Stovers background, but I can tell you one thing, she knows how to make dialogue between soldiers feel like you are listening to actual footage, rather than a story. The book is based on one character called Thwip, who is in training to become of the Elite soldiers, called the Nova's. So for the first 1/3rd it is all about learning who Thwip is and how clever he is. You get dropped straight into a action scene and don't expect any backstory, you are pretty much straight in, which I love.
Anyway... told you this was going to be hard to write. The Nova's wear a high tech suit called a Trepid, which is so awesome that they pretty much never take them off, ever, (so you can tell no romance in this book right?!). Because these suits are an key component in the story and the characters lives, it spends at least half the book with our man Thwip learning to use his suit. Sounds boring right? But it actually isn't. I found the whole premise of putting on this suit that can make you into superman and taking weeks to not even fall over when walking refreshingly realistic. The last quarter is all about the Nova team and the ending pretty much shows you there is more to come.
So what makes it so different. The world building is pretty much non existent, because their world is in their suit. So you need to learn all about the suit right?
The characters are flat and so rigidly soldiery that it is like watching wooden blocks communicate. But, you can't have 100% no personality and slowly but surely Stover gives you little snippets of human traits in the crew and you leap on that and pay attention. It is weird, the characters are so defined in my head, but yet, 90% of their communication is rigid military speak.

This book isn't for everyone, you can see a people being bored by the whole detail that Stover brings to the table. I think that she is a very very clever writer and I am starting to see the promise of this series. It is nice to be exposed to something different and if you like hard scifi, military scifi, or hightech warfare then I think this is a series than may appeal to you. It is a relatively short read and I am looking forward to seeing where this story goes.
Profile Image for Dave.
2 reviews1 follower
January 26, 2016
Astral Fall is a book that engages the reader right out of the gate, being both familiar and uniquely alien at the same time. Stover has woven a tapestry that is delicately unfurled, revealing a complex and colourful universe as rich in character and detail as some of science fiction and fantasy's greatest world-builders. As the first installment in a heroic space adventure of epic scale, this book is sure to delight fans of works like Ender's Game or Lord of the Rings. As this series unfolds, it is sure to be one that seeps into popular culture and consciousness. Do yourself a favour and read this book now, giving yourself the opportunity to proudly state that you were there at the beginning.
Profile Image for bekah.
2 reviews
May 7, 2020
This book had a confusing and annoying start, some good and fun bits, then it just stops. I kept trying to swipe to the next page an embarrassing number of times and still wasn't convinced it had ended, until I checked some other user reviews.
Profile Image for Curtis Sawyer.
41 reviews1 follower
February 14, 2016
"Astral Fall" is a rarity in science fiction today as it is not based on an existing movie, prior work, or global franchise. It is wholly fresh--a story that is as gripping as it is unique. Books are often referred to as "page turners" but when you reach the chapter "roselaurels" you will be hard pressed not to read straight through to the end in a single sitting. In addition to telling a compelling story, there are also many subtleties that challenge a reader on the first pass. This artfulness includes having the reader examine his or her personal bias in interpreting behaviors and perceiving gender roles when the characters are introduced generically and their sex is revealed later. Simply put, with "Astral Fall" Jessica Mae Stover deftly lays the foundation for what is sure to be an epic series.
Profile Image for Leigh.
23 reviews
March 22, 2016
I always find it difficult to review a single book in a series—it's like reviewing the first twenty minutes of a movie as a standalone piece. I have to admit that had this book not been highly recommended (and gifted) to me by a friend, I'm not sure I would have stuck with it past the first quarter or so (I'm telling you this so that you stick with it if you find yourself in the same position). That could be due to a short attention span on my part or perhaps a touch too much setup and exposition early on, but nonetheless I stuck with it and by the end was completely immersed. The first half of the book sets up the players and their world in a way that never panders, and then at a moment when we least expect it, we're thrust into a mystery that leaves us hungry for the next installment.
23 reviews4 followers
December 25, 2018
Short version: Wait for the next book in the series to come out. If it comes out (and if the quality is comparable to this book) you should definitely pick this one up if you like unconventional military scifi. Definitely recommended - depending on the sequel.

There's a lot to like about the book, as other reviewers have already described really well. The way the reader gets thrown into the world and bombarded with special phrases, acronyms and tech without any explanation is fascinating, the competence porn is excellent, there's a pleasant lack of jingoism and macho bullshit and the way the personal sides of each protagonist are slowly and sparsely introduced shows an author with skill.

That being said, I need to talk about the ending. I can deal with cliffhanger endings and I can deal with the plot throwing curveballs but this ending has both or rather it has a major curveball and instead of a cliffhanger it just just - stops. These factors taken together left me rather dissatisfied with the whole novel even though I won't deny its quality. Without the ending this would have been a solid four out of five stars. It doesn't help that the sequel will propably (?) come out 2019, three years after publication of the first book. After such a divisive ending (even the author acknowledges it in the "questions" section of this novel here on GR) it would have been better to have a quick follow up a year later at most. I won't argue that this is no small feat but since there is so much published each year in the SF genre reader interest in a series can be quickly waning, especially with such an unusual series. Authors like Marko Kloos or Jack Campbell seem to be aware of that and keep up a steady schedule for exactly this reason.

If/when the sequel gets published and its quality is comparable to this book I will definitely revisit this review and change my rating and actively promoting it but until then, I feel compelled to say that interested readers should wait for the sequel before jumping in.
Profile Image for Peter.
12 reviews13 followers
April 17, 2016
A very interesting science fantasy book. This book is the first in a series, and mostly seemed like setup for the following books. That being said, it was very engaging, and I was very interested from start to finish. I'll be honest, the main thing that drew me in was that it was about cool powered armor/exosuits.

The area in which I felt it was lacking was its explanations. The book primarily throws technobabble at you, without explaining much of what things meant. Definitions of things like the "Sunway", "trepid", and "arrow suits" had to be gleaned from context, but I would still like a better explanation, so that I could visualize it better. And we are likewise left in the dark about the war they're supposed to be stopping. I'm still not entirely certain whether it's between two groups of humans or an alien race.

In summary, it was an interesting read, and I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series, though I hope that it isn't longer than a trilogy. While few explanations are provided, events and characters flow naturally, so it doesn't feel like much is missing.
Profile Image for Rich Willson.
56 reviews
March 8, 2016
Blew my mind!! and.. Gah!! Any one who has read this will understand; this better be a "theoretical"
Profile Image for Dave Appleby.
Author 5 books7 followers
December 6, 2022
In a world of space wars, a young man graduates from military training and joins an elite team of space warriors. The bulk of the book concerns his fitting into the team; the final couple of chapters is almost a trailer for the sequel.

What I like about this book is that the author doesn't waste any time inducting the reader into the fictional world. Straight away, I had to contend with "auttie yanks" and "hardhoods", "fractal trepid suits" and "orgo-panels". This made it very hard to read but, having persevered, the story started coming through. And all the details made it utterly convincing. It was all a bit too technical for me - it made it hard to glimpse the human dilemmas - but, remarkably, this author made what might have been a simple, futuristic space yarn seem very real. This means that it undermines the trope of militaristic novels that seem to be based on shoot-em-up games in which bad things happen with few consequences.

Hugely atmospheric. An epic. Ideal for those who like the military equivalent of police procedurals.

Of course, that means the reading was hard work. But in the end, it made for an extraordinarily realistic and thrilling story.
3 reviews
June 9, 2016
Another reviewer said that this book never panders and that's the truth. Finally we have a scifi adventure writer that treats the reader with a lot of respect. In fact, I think this series is potentially The Next Big Thing ((in a different way than Wool was)). It's mysterious, written very powerfully and yet it is subtle, and doesn't pull punches. It was not predictable and it is not YA. I like enough YA but it's nice for a change to have something grown up. It's serious and also some parts are very fun. The villain is still taking form and I find that fascinating. This is what scifi fans need more of, but I also think this book might be scifi for people who never thought they'd read a scifi book with space scenes, because the characters matter and are so real. Astral Fall is just short of 300 pages and I read the last 60 pages at a fevered pace. I can't wait for book #2. You might say I Crave more! Read this book with an open mind and you might too.
Profile Image for Donald Kirby.
168 reviews2 followers
May 9, 2019
My dear friend! You wrote a fantastic sci-fi book. I didn't even want to put it down, but because I didn't sleep well last night I had to rest before finishing this book. I can't wait for part two :-). To all other readers, if you love sci-fi, you will love this book. The names/characters in this book are unique and intriguing. You won't be sorry!
4 reviews
November 7, 2019
This was great! Review forthcoming.

Merged review:

This was great! Review forthcoming.
August 31, 2022
Deep Bonds Between Characters In Media Res

The SPSFC2 has begun and since I decided to follow along this year and to try my hand at reviewing as a spectator, when I took a look at the candidates at first I wanted to know more about Astral Fall. The cover caught my eye over most of the others. The sample for Astral Fall on ibooks, which I’d learn is chapter 1 after the prologue, was surprisingly great. I decided to buy the book based on the quality of prose, the characters, and the plot I saw the beginnings of in the sample. Needless to say, if the goals of the SPSFC2 competition is to bring readers to a legitimate standout sci-fi gem, then they have already succeeded with me. Astral Fall is subtly one of the best books I’ve read in years. I’m glad I bought it and started the series, which I’ll now look forward to following.

Beyond the plot and characters which by the end [*for now*] had me captured, the author is subtle and doing a lot with literary elements. As a fan I have to admit most science fiction doesn’t do more than characters and plot with some degree of world building, so this was a pleasant surprise and all the more filling. I noticed what was happing with timing thematically with the way the POV brings you in *and* out of things. Are you ready? Can you ever be ready? I read the other reviews here to see if it had the same impact on the other readers. It did so the reactions are interesting. Most readers were all in and got that something unique had happened and a couple of readers felt critical over being given the same emotion results the character feels in the situation presented. This review gave me the chuckles and a face palm because that's the point of it! A good example of how the author uses the form of an ebook and the reader’s background expectations about sci-fi books to do things and make feelings suitable to the setting. The more I thought about this, the more I thought about this!

A good book will have you thinking; a *great* book will have you thinking about it days after even when you didn’t expect to.

For recommendations, like some other great reviewers who wrote long reviews said already this isn’t YA pretending to be adult sci-fi like Tor publishes all too often: it’s hard sci-fi and modern sci-fi, this ain’t your father’s sci-fi and cheers to that, so be ready for that. It gets more and more accessible with every turn of page. A neat effect. Won’t say too much here except like a nova hang on tight and expect nothing to perceive everything.
4 reviews
September 17, 2022
Great prose, great new sci-fi writer. Great which only came to me a day later. In a setting Seems like it made some other reviewers feel end page's meant to which tells me it worked. Bring me the next book because I’m ready but also I can appreciate the that I wouldn’t have had as much or maybe wouldn’t have understood if I could have rushed into the second book right after finishing the first.

Some authors will give you a great description of comprehending, this author gives you a great experience of comprehending.

Hats off, or should I say hoods off?, to author Stover. Five supernova stars.

To every reader here who didn’t post spoilers for me to accidentally see; thanks. I appreciate that.
Profile Image for Matt K.
3 reviews
November 17, 2022
There are no spoilers in my review: #1) Thing I’d tell you about Astral Fall is that I liked spending time with this group of characters A LOT, and I could’ve ridden with them for thousands more pages, so I’m happy the writer has a post available saying book two’s coming next year, especially because this year’s almost over: *great* character dynamics and great dialogue. It’s a crew you will want to join. #2) Thing I’d tell you is the world and technologies feel realistic: intelligent in a new way that’s hard to describe. #3) Thing is this novel’s shorthand is Ursula meets Cormac when you think about the writing skills. #4) Thing is after reading this writer’s other book which is more poetic / intense: looks like we might have another chance on the field to have a science fiction author win the Pulitzer sometime in the next decade and put some respect on scifi’s name. #5) Thing is I’ll reference it with a meme: this book basically says RIP to your military scifi cuz I’m different

Profile Image for Pat.
2 reviews
August 14, 2022
Slow burn and eye catching opener to a new science fiction series. I read the author’s literary science fiction novella Impress of the Seventh Surge (my review) and then came to Astral Fall. There aren’t many sci-fi authors I can think of who write exciting and intriguing adventure series like Astral Fall, then can flip a switch and write pure speculative fiction literature like Impress of the Seventh Surge. As examples of that, Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin are at the tip of my tongue, and now I’m reading Stover. I’m with everyone else, which means I look forward to Astral Fall book #2. This book has great characters who speak and act with deep meaning, and hold deep convictions and loyalties.
Profile Image for Seth May.
52 reviews1 follower
August 21, 2016
As part I of a two (or more) part story I liked it. The world seems interesting, but the end was unfulfilling as it was left.
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