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The Sol Majestic

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  577 ratings  ·  135 reviews
The Sol Majestic is a big-hearted intergalactic adventure for fans of Becky Chambers and The Good Place

Kenna, an aspirational teen guru, wanders destitute across the stars as he tries to achieve his parents' ambition to advise the celestial elite.

Everything changes when Kenna wins a free dinner at The Sol Majestic, the galaxy's most renown restaurant, giving him access to
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Tor Books
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Ferrett Steinmetz Good catch! Originally the restaurant was called "Mono No Aware" (a reference to both Ken Liu's excellent story and the concept in general), but the f…moreGood catch! Originally the restaurant was called "Mono No Aware" (a reference to both Ken Liu's excellent story and the concept in general), but the folks at Tor wanted the name of the book to be the same as the restaurant, and "Mono No Aware" wasn't quite the vibe they wanted. So everything changed.


Not EVERYTHING, apparently. :) (less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  577 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Steinmetz ever since Flex, so it doesn't matter what he writes because I'll be there, enjoying the strong creativity and stronger characters.

I honestly didn't even bother to read the blurb. Silly me. But what really woke me up was the fact that I was now reading a FOODIE novel. Yes, indeed, this is a THING. Not only that, it's becoming more and more common in fantasy and SF.


So now that Steinmetz is jumping into the mashup stew, mixing a weird social SF with a mo
Chris (The Genre Fiend)
It's not often I doubt my tastes as a reader, but every once in a while a book like this comes along.

Kenna is a teenager of philosophy - specifically, an archaic form called the Inevitable Philosophies. His parents scrape across the galaxy trying to bring their "altruistic" (read: privileged) outlook on life to the unenlightened folks. Dragged along with them on cramped transport ships with barely two nutricrackers to keep his belly full, Kenna stumbles upon a mysterious restaurant during a spac
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I picked up this author. However, it is the second book by this author that I've finished. Brace yourself, some timey-wimey stuff might be ahead.

Back in May, I wanted to read this along with DNA's Hitchhiker books. And it did fit. But then the everything-slump hit thanks to this terrible excuse of a year and I finally found myself drained of energy. Thus, this delicious beauty had to wait far too long to be finished.

The Sol Majestic is a very special restaurant on a space
My first (AFAIK) hopepunk novel was not as delicious as its premise. A fine dining restaurant in a space station. The setting itself and the Kindle sample got me interested. Yet it became tasteless at time due to overdescription, and having not able to connect with the main POV was also a drawback for me. I really struggled reading his thoughts. Some characters were far more interesting, like Montgomery the Sensate and her weird dough alien thingy, the strict manager Scrimshaw and the mercurial ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was Inevitable this book would turn out to be awesome.
Joaquin Garza
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I regularly scour clean my YouTube feed for book recommendations. The Booktube SFF community is small but plucky and my main source of inspiration tends to be there. However, until now most of the books in those videos were either “I’ve already read it” or “the third book in a not very popular series”.

So when I saw an unboxing of this book and heard the premise, I just wanted to get my hands on it. It sounded vaguely like a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cross with Moulin Rouge and a Master C
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit! This book was incredible!!! You could say it was... Majestic.

I have never read such sumptuous descriptions of food, such evocative language around taste and smell and heat. This book made me crave dishes that don't exist yet. But most of all, it made me appreciate the simple perfection of a well made soup. And how food can bring you home. How food is love.

Kenna is the child of a dying religion with no prospects and no influence, traveling in cargo ships. When we meet him he hasn't e
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Welp, I meant to go to bed 2 hours ago, decided to read a bit more of this book, and just marathoned through the last third of it.

I have some issues with the main character, as he seems... untethered and unpredictable. Bland, with fits of emotion that come almost at random. But I think that's almost the point. Like with the Shadow in American Gods, who is just so vacant for most of the book. And in the end, you realize that's the point - because he, like Kenna, doesn't know who he really is unti
Paula Lyle
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, dnf
I really thought I would like this book, but I just couldn't get into it. Lots of stuff happens, some of it interesting, yet all those things never really created a plot. Read about 1/3 of the book and could not think of a reason to keep going.
Matthew Wentworth
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Some cool concepts, I suppose, but the detailed descriptions of food over and over again were tedious and there were so many lengthy sections of the book that I was just waiting to be over.

I know that this is supposed to be "philosophical", but it just came off as pretentious.
This is a really cool book and yet, it took me a long time to get through it, because I just didn't pick it up. Why?

What I liked
- The characters - they are diverse, interesting and flawed.
- The worldbuilding - a lot of interesting ideas done well.
- The story - it's not as action-packet, but more introspect and develops slowly, but I found this was done very well and I liked it.
- James Fouhey as audiobook speaker - he's the only one I've heard so far who can read the dialogue of women without me
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
this was an odd one bc i did like it, but there were some definite Not Great parts that have me questioning that like (view spoiler) ...more
D. H.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
As I was reading this, I kept thinking of snarky ways to review it, but the truth is the art in the story-telling is solid and doesn't deserve ridicule. There were even parts I found compelling, like when Kenna and Benzo enter the escargone, but overall it just wasn't for me. It reads like a vague allegory that I just don't get, the plot is vague, and there are moments of implausibility that pulled me out of the story. It is imaginative, at times uncomfortably so, but the view of the future leav ...more
Meredith Eriksen
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This one took me a little bit to catch the rhythm -- the language, the idea of inevitable philosophy -- but once I settled in, what a delightful read! There's some fun stuff about food in the future, less fun stuff about how, despite reaching the stars, we're the same broken species comprised of haves and have-nots. But at its core, a wonderful exploration of what motivates us, what's truly important. One of my favorite things about Steinmetz's characters is how rich and well developed they are ...more
J9 Brown
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
*won a copy from a Goodreads giveaway*

Very odd and very original. I wasn't really feeling it at first, I felt like the style was kind of dorky (if that even makes sense), but then all of a sudden I got swept away by the story. Some parts dragged but overall I had fun reading it. And the food descriptions! I've had more grilled cheeses in the past week than I have in years. Thanks for making me so hungry, book!
Gitai Ben-ammi
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sff, gay, black, cookbooks
I loved this book so much. A teenage boy is meant to become a great philosopher, but philosophy isn't filling his belly. Instead he's starving. But then he wins a free meal at the best restaurant in the universe.

After a life of eating nothing except to survive, he discovers real food, the joy of cooking, a cute boy to fall in love with, and the truth about the people who work the worst jobs in the universe. And it's brilliant. The author captures so much of the process of self discovery and he
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To see a full review check it out here.

This is a nearly perfect book. Random trans plot that didn't fit or go anywhere, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. If that scene didn't exist, then this book would have been perfect.

So wholesome, so powerful. I had goosebumps.
***Dave Hill
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: text
This is a remarkable book on many levels.

The "food" writing is amazing, in and of itself, how the author connects food to the story, and as speculative fiction about dining in the future.

That's all wrapped into an alternately moving, frustrating, engaging, and offputting tale about a teenager who may, someday, resurrect the philosophical cult movement his parents are still flogging to the ruling classes. There were times I wanted to give Kenna a hug, and times I wanted to toss him out the airloc
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff
I’m always telling people who don’t read science fiction that it’s not just space ships and aliens and Star Wars (no shade), but that good science fiction tackles larger stories of humanity. But maybe in space.

The Sol Majestic is one of the best examples I’ve unearthed of a science fiction novel that just feels like a social commentary set in space. The main character’s arc provides a stark look at the consequences of staggering socioeconomic inequity, the tensions between familial loyalty and m
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, space, lbgtq
4.5 stars, and an absolutely delightful read. As a big fan of both cooking and scifi, I was immediately hooked by this premise of The Sol Majestic, the galaxy's most renowned restaurants. But the characters and their plights are ultimately what kept me reading, and this was the perfect fun pick-me-up as I nursed a bad head cold last week. The third person present tense does take some adjusting to, as does Kenna's stilted and scholarly way of talking, but Steinmetz makes it work. The middle did s ...more
Martin Jones
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to be a writer in the summer of 1986. Writing wasn’t a new idea. It had been there in the background, through prospective, variously unrealistic, astronaut, fireman, air traffic controller and musician phases. As a keen undergraduate, I wrote two plays, which nobody would stage. Then, after finishing university, what had long been a vague idea hardened into a decision. My parents were worried. This writing plan was sucking motivation away from committing to something more sensible. Emp ...more
jonathan finn
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quirky and original Sci fi tale

The Sol Majestic is a hugely hopefull and joyful book that celebrates the bonds of found family and the power that can be found when you move beyond the expectations that are imposed on you both by your self and others.

Kenna is a destitute 16 year old the heir or prince to the Inevitable philosophy a sort of self help religion that is powered by the will power and determination of there followers when they find there philosophy, the personal truth or ephiany that d
Martha Steele
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only way I can think of to describe this novel is, completely unique. I guess at the core it's a coming of age novel. The main character is a 16 year old boy who is stuck on a ship in outer space. It's almost like he is a stowaway, based on his desperate situation. He is starving. Bullies steal what meager stores of food he has, which mostly consist of vending machine type food. His situation though, is so incongruous that it's difficult to describe. You see, his parents are a important peop ...more
Scott Williams
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The lovely people at TOR sent me an ARC of this book for review and I’m so glad they did because I think it might be a work of genius.

At first, I was quite skeptical. I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy a book about a fancy restaurant in space. I have a complicated relationship with food. But, as I continued to read, it became clear that this book was about so much more than that. It’s about capitalism, and slavery, and racism, and it features a gay person of colour who actually gets to have a relationship.
My first five-star read of 2020 thoroughly earned its fifth star with insight, drama, and bravura writing.

Ferrett Steinmetz holds the unusual distinction of having written a dystopian novel I don't hate, primarily because of the way he handles his characters and the thoughtfulness and insight he brings to ideas about human society and interaction, so when I saw this one I knew it would be worth a look. It helps that (thanks to my wife's obsession with food competition shows) I've developed an i
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this very hard to classify book. It was both fun and moving. It is science fiction, but also a think piece about belief systems and their role in society. Some people compare it to The Good Place, which makes sense. It is about very serious things, like relationships with parents, love, the need for meaning, slavery, capitalism, marketing, and the value we place on crafting food. It also explores the hard work and risk-taking that can be part of a creative life. If any of those ...more
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is delightful, but not fluffy. Kenna's coming-of-age journey is pretty tumultuous. It's a little bit fairy-tale-like, in that the broad brushstrokes of the plot are obvious. But the details surprised me at every turn.

Technically, we only see Kenna's PoV, but the book isn't too tightly focused on him. There are references to things Kenna has no way of knowing and occasional glimpses into other characters' emotions. But instead of feeling like errors to me, those qualities contributed to
Kenna is poor, the only son of two inevitable philosophers who roam space looking for wealthy patrons to advise. While his parents can take solace in their profound wisdom, Kenna has not yet discovered his philosophy and spends his time being bullied on cramped spaceships. A chance encounter grants him entry into the magical world of the Sol Majestic and then things get interesting.

This is a book about food and found family, first love and a hard day’s work. There are some quick tonal shifts an
Aug 01, 2020 rated it liked it
2.5, rounded up because the story itself did manage to keep my attention; I was invested enough in seeing how it would all turn out and it was easy enough to come back to. The Sol Majestic contains a lot of interesting ideas, the problem is, that's all they are. A lot of concepts are thrown in, and often I liked them, but I wanted to see them fleshed out more. Instead, none of the world or character building really managed to jump off the page for me. The world had no real history behind it and ...more
Zeke Gonzalez
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ferrett Steinmetz’s The Sol Majestic is a charming & heart-warming story about food, love, and freedom. Steinmetz crafts a fun science-fiction world of restaurant space stations, living yeasty bread dough, and time-traveling kitchens, then populates it with a vibrant cast of endearing characters. I usually despise coming-of-age stories, but everything about Kenna’s in this novel is extraordinarily hard-fought and well-earned. There’s a wonderful queer romance that isn’t simply a side plot, but a ...more
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After twenty years of wandering desolate as a writer, Ferrett Steinmetz attended the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop in 2008 and was rejuvenated. Since then, he's sold stories to Asimov's Science Fiction (twice!), Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, among others, and otherwise has a marvelous collection of very personalized rejection l ...more

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