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The Light Years

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  297 ratings  ·  84 reviews
A long-lost battleship and an arranged marriage may hold the key to faster-than-light travel and humanity's future in R.W.W. Greene's debut The Light Years

Hisako Saski was born with her life already mapped out. In exchange for an education, better housing for her family, and a boost out of poverty, she's been contracted into an arranged marriage to Adem Sadiq, a maintenan
Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Angry Robot
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  297 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Richard Derus
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindled-no-lend

My Review
: I wasn't eager to read this book...I don't like being mean to people, and a first novel about relativistic space travel wasn't likely to excite me in a good way...but Rob asked me to read it in an unrefusable way: "I'll take my chances."

Major respect for that, dude.

So here I am reviewing it and recommending it for #Booksgiving. That's unusual for a first novel. A first novel with a casually bisexual male lead, a culture of sell
Jason Pettus
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, contemporary
This wasn't bad enough to officially be thought of as a "bad book;" but the whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking of that line Homer says to Ricky Gervais during that one episode of The Simpsons -- "You take forever to say nothing!" It's particularly bad in this case, because this is supposed to be a science-fiction novel, regarding an arranged marriage that will be perceived to take place in 25 years from the standpoint of the newborn infant wife growing up on a stationary planet, but on ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found out this book was still on my shelves, and I am glad I did.

The world Adem and Hisako live in, is far from perfect. It would have been the most travelled path to focus on the problems like social and financial inequality, the power the rich have over the poor, or to have a main character living in squalor. But none of that, Greene focused on the middle class, and those who are rich enough and privileged enough, but still have to work hard to keep that privilege. 'The Light Years' goes de
Holly (The GrimDragon)
"The drummer began an awkward solo, and the girl picked up a bottle of water. She drained it and flung it at the audience. She picked the song back up with a riff that sounded like post-argument sex and screamed into the microphone. She was rail thin, her hair cut into a wedge. She had more tattoos than Johnny.

'I think I just came,' Ramona said.

I nodded, utterly entranced by the girl on the stage. She took up all the room and light."

The Light Years is the debut novel by R.W.W. Greene.

Set 1,000+
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
4.0 Stars
This was a wonderful piece of slow burning science fiction. Given the premise, I originally thought this was going to be a romance, but it definitely was not. Instead, this novel focused on the development of the two main characters as they grew up and came to terms with their roles within their pending martial contract. 

While the main plot centered around a male/female pairing, I was happy to see that relationships are all sexual orientation and genders were shown as normal in this ima
Kara Babcock
Relativity can be awful sometimes. You get in your spaceship, leave a planet, and you come back a few months later only to find that years have passed and your family is old or dead and all your plants died because YOU COULDN'T WATER THEM LIKE I ASKED, KEVIN?

Anyway, most science fiction stories use a trope, like faster-than-light travel, to avoid dealing with relativity. Not so R.W.W. Greene. In The Light Years, the time dilation effect is embraced as a principle plot device. I received a free c
keikii Eats Books
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it
To read more of my reviews, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books!

"It's not just a word," she said. "You are not shit. Our daughter is not shit."
"It takes shit to make flowers," Joao said, "and my life is a garden full of them."

This is not a romance.

Perhaps most of my disappointment in The Light Years was wrapped up in that simple sentence. This is not a romance, and the blurb made it sound that at least some of the book would be devoted to romance. In reality, maybe only 5% wa
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, arc
(Edit 3/6: 3 stars) (3.5) This was quite the ride! I was super interested in the premise but was VERY hesitant after the first few chapters. Thankful I ended up really enjoying this overall! I think the ways in which culture was shown to have changed and morphed was really interesting and realistic, and I was impressed with a lot of the commentary that happened throughout and definitely enjoyed that. My two complaints would be pacing and characterization. I get very attached to just about every ...more
Reese Hogan
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve always loved stories about time advancing differently for people who travel close to the speed of light, and The Light Years is an ideal example of a book in this genre. An engineer living on a spaceship that travels almost as fast as light appears practically immortal to the rest of the universe. He is the oldest of three siblings, but the next youngest is now older than him due to living on land for a time, and the youngest is long dead of old age. Now in his mid-twenties, he makes an arr ...more
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a good read.

Merchants ply their trades throughout the galaxy and when they come back to their planet, they have only aged the length of their voyage but planet side, people age in years or decades.

Traders are referred to as immortals and make long range plans including contracting for marriages to assist their businesses - here a marriage contract requires the future bride to study specific topics that will benefit the owners of a merchant ship. Ancient technology is scattered through
Reid Edwards
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was the kind of novel that I always hope to stumble across - fantastic world-building with just enough fiction blended in to make the SF aspirational-esque, vivid and enthralling characters who have their own motivations and voices, and a plot line with enough bends to keep you interested in continuing the story to the end. You can tell the author has some understanding of both music and politics, and is writing to his strengths. Greene does a great job building the characters during their ...more
Ginger Smith
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
RWW Greene’s The Light Years was a fascinating trip into the virtually immortal lives of people who travel the stars and the people who are left behind on broken worlds. I found the characters immediately compelling from the opening pages - Hisako and Adem’s multifaceted personalities kept me engaged as a reader to find out how it all turns out for them. It’s also evident that the author has a broad knowledge of many cultures, and he’s not afraid to tackle timely social issues. All in all, this ...more
Dan Hanks
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Wonderfully epic, but very intimate science fiction tale of an arranged marriage set across time and space. A little like The Forever War, in that it showcases human struggles with relativity, but with an even more personal and deeply felt focus. Beautiful writing too. I'm not normally one to ask for sequels where they're not needed, but I'd love to spend more time with these richly drawn, very human characters in this universe if I could. ...more
Online Eccentric Librarian
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, sci-fi
More reviews at the Online Eccentric Librarian

More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog

In many ways, this feels very much like a throwback to 1970s sci fi - complete with all the 'hippie' ideals where you get to stick it to 'the man' (greedy corporate types), save the poor, strive for peace, be liberal and relaxed, live communally, experience many sexual partners of both genders, get wasted frequently, and play some music at the same time. But that is tempered with the 2019 themes of inclusiveness, refu
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, 2020-releases
Review first published on The Curious SFF Reader

Set in a future where humankind left a dying Earth to reach the stars, The Light Years follows Hisako Saski and Adem Sadiq, two people forced to marry to fulfill the wishes of their respective families.

The Sadiq own The Haji, a sub-light ship used to carry goods between planet. While this ship is very valuable, it’s getting old and the family cannot afford to lose it. The captain has a plan to transform it by using the remains of a warship powered
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: standalones
So. The Light Years. Honestly, from the moment I first read the premise of this book I was a little enthralled. The idea it wanted to explore were ones I had not as of yet encountered in my admittedly limited scifi reading. Specially the time dilation aspect, and the human relations aspect tied to it.

Unfortunately, The Light Years proved to be a slow-burn book that never really got past the slow part. It never really burned bright, or wholly took into the sky with rushing heat, but sometimes it
Aaron McQuiston
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: angry-robot
"The Light Years" is different than what many people will probably want. If you are looking for an action packed space adventure, this is not it. If you are looking for action and mystery set in space, this is not it. What "The Light Years" does, and does well, is tells a story of a family, the Sadiq family who run a trade ship, is in the black but just barely, and has figured out that they need a new engineer for a plan they have to get faster and richer. The son, Adem, the ship’s maintenance e ...more
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss, sci-fi
An excellent sci-fi with a great world building and fascinating characters that are well developed.
The writer is a talented storyteller and I was fascinated by the world building and the voice of the different characters that creates an entertaining and engrossing plot.
I hope this is the start of a series because I want to know more and travel with these characters.
In any case I look forward to reading other stories by this writer.
It was an excellent read, highly recommended.
Many thanks to the p
Matt Shaw
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Greene presents a richly-developed SF world and populates it with characters variously coarse, nuanced, dull, clever, musical, and sometimes desperate. Best of all, he patiently lets the characters speak for themselves; The Light Years wants a patient reader because it is a slow-building story dependent upon its characters rather than a story in which stock characters react to plot points. For me, at least, that made it a pleasure to read, especially since the two main p-o-v characters (Adem and ...more
Tim Hicks
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Good for a first novel. Tackles a subject not much addressed so far, and even those who have addressed it have looked at the impact of time-dilating travel on ordinary people.

Be aware that this is NOT in the shoot-em-up space-battle genre, although a planet does get blowed up real good offstage. It develops, shall we say, andante.

I wasn't surprised to read that Greene plays guitar. Musician authors always make sure you know it. But all is forgiven, because Greene named a key ship the Christophe
Mar 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This story was science fiction light. Adem has been a generalist on his family's starship, the Hajj. Hisako, was offered to him in an arranged marriage before she was born. Time progresses differently on the starship and after Hisako finishes college and it is time for the wedding the two are about the same age. When a wormhole offering faster-than-the-speed-of-light travel is discovered things get mighty complicated.

There were parts of the story in which I got totally sucked in and other parts
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This would make a great TV series!
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
There's a lot to like about this book, but also things that nagged at me while I was reading it. The good things first. The worldbuilding is excellent, or perhaps that should be galaxy-building because a lot of this is set in deep space. It tackles the human problem of relativity - a short trip, subjective time, means that years have passed when the ship returns to its point of origin. Anyone taking that trip will return to find family and friends have aged and possibly died.

The freighter, The
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars rounded up to 5
See my full review on my blog at

As a medieval history buff, I was intrigued by the ‘arranged marriage’ premise of The Light Years, and anxious to see how it would unfold in Greene’s 34th century. Greene’s world-building sucked me into Adem and Hisako’s story immediately. In alternating chapters from the main characters’ point of view, we get depth and the richness of the worlds and very different lives these two lead after Adem’s
Kaffeeklatsch and Books
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, netgalley, sci-fi
I loved it. Adem is my new lit-crush! 😍
I'm just a bit concerned regarding the cliffhanger at the end? Is there a book 2 coming? If not I'll need to change my star rating to 2 due to the fact, that I wouldn't be satisfied with this ending. I have high hopes for this as this is a debut.
Please, please, please gimme some more!
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Light Years is a wonderful debut novel from a talented writer making the transition from short stories to a longer form. It's excellent space opera with a family-owned slower than light ship making its run between post-diaspora worlds which experience decades for every year of the trader's transit. THere's a touch of Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy in here, as well as a lot of very original thought.

At the outset, Adem, the son of the ship captain, goes planetside to arrange for a wife. He w
Dave Milbrandt
Nov 29, 2019 rated it liked it
The premise of this book as promising, and the story, albeit a bit more gritty than I prefer, was relatively well told. The challenge I have is that I don't necessarily believe the transformation of the characters. It is intriguing that both the male and female characters are liberated in their relationships. The problem is that the payout isn't enough of a payout for me. They give up (mostly) their free-loving lifestyles to be with each other and yet they're with each other in a post-nihilistic ...more
David Harris
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm grateful to the publisher for providing a free advance e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Light Years is a slightly different take on science fiction. Focussing on two central characters, Hisako Saski and Adem Sadiq, who are contracted by their parents to marry. The twist is that while Adem, a young man in his 20s, is aware of the deal (even if he didn't actually seek it), Hisako isn't even born yet.

What evens things up is special relativity. Adem's family make their living aboard a trade
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it
When Adem Sadiq, a crewman and part owner on a slower-than-light freighter, stops on Gaul, he orders a wife, to be picked up on his next arrival, months for him, over twenty years planetside. It's not his choice, but a traditional way to recruit talent, a child born to poverty given an education and better living conditions, albeit growing up with the knowledge they'll have to enter a marriage contract for a few years on a space ship when the time comes. Hisako, the child, is not happy with the ...more
Elaine Aldred
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
In a heart-breaking effort to lift their only child out of the poverty she was born into, Hisako Saski is promised by her parents in an arranged marriage to the son of a family-owned starship, the Hajj, before she is even born. When Hisako finds out later on in life, it is a situation she is far from happy with, particularly as the agreement binds her to study an obscure area of physics, which is far from prestigious. But when, at last, Hisako finds herself with her husband, Adem, and in the far ...more
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R.W.W. Greene is a New Hampshire writer who lives with his writer spouse and two rather odd cats: Huzzah! and Jack. Greene holds an MFA in fiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University and doesn't play his guitar nearly as much as he'd like. ...more

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