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A Pale Light in the Black

(NeoG #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  683 ratings  ·  167 reviews
The rollicking first entry in a unique science fiction series that introduces the Near-Earth Orbital Guard—NeoG—a military force patrolling and protecting space inspired by the real-life mission of the U.S. Coast Guard.

For the past year, their close loss in the annual Boarding Games has haunted Interceptor Team: Zuma’s Ghost. With this year’s competition looming, they’re l
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Harper Voyager
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Lex Kent The three main characters include a lesbian, asexual woman and bisexual woman. There are also some gender neutral and bisexual secondary characters to…moreThe three main characters include a lesbian, asexual woman and bisexual woman. There are also some gender neutral and bisexual secondary characters too. I might even be missing some because it was a nice wide range of sexuality and genders. (less)

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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Lex Kent
This was a solid and enjoyable sci-fi read. I’m a big sci-fi fan but have not read as much lately as I would like too. This had the sci-fi space opera feel that I was looking for and I was happy to read this. This reminded me a bit of Firefly mixed with Starship Troopers with a pinch of Ender’s Game thrown in, but without all the bugs and aliens. This is a pure humans in space story that is very character driven.

There are three main characters: A lesbian, a bisexual woman, and an asexual woman.
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Star Trek fans
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Pale Light in the Black follows the crew of Zuma’s Ghost, who are members of the Near-Earth Orbital Guard (NeoG), a branch of the military akin to the Coast Guard… in space. These characters are the highlight of the story. First off, they’re diverse, representing a variety of sexualities, gender identities, religions, and racial and ethnic backgrounds. They’re also extremely likabl
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf-for-adults
Ohhhh I loved this book. It's such a warm and cozy, low-angst space opera about a diverse team of caring, competent people working the equivalent of the Coast Guard in space, saving lives, prepping for a big inter-division sports event, and creating a found family along the way. There's a bit of plot, but honestly, the focus is all on the (wonderful) characters and their relationships, and that's exactly how I liked it - it was SUCH a kind and comforting book to read. Perfect for anyone who love ...more
Although I'm into the found family and cozy space opera aspects of this book, I'm gonna DNF this at 50% because

- neither of the two main plots are grabbing me: I don't care about this weird Olympic-like sports competition and the author has not convinced me why it's so important in this world; the mystery is unraveling far too slowly for my liking

- Uneven pacing: the narrative seems to speed up and gloss over events that I found more interesting, and linger over scenes that aren't important

- t
Diana Green
Sep 11, 2020 rated it liked it
So this book was quite a mixture for me. I'll start with what I liked, and these were elements that I'm always a big fan of. The diversity was spot on, with lesbian, bi, and ace protagonists. I particularly enjoyed the relationship dynamics, finding the ensemble of characters in the "found family" to be really appealing.

Max and Jenks were especially well-drawn, and that leads to one of my disappointments. Max and Jenks had by far the best chemistry together, but the author chose to give them bo
Barb in Maryland
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-f-goodies
Absolute romp of a book! Great fun, engaging characters. I had a blast with this one.
Beth Cato
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, science, ebook, 2020
I received this advance galley via NetGalley.

I'm a huge fan of Wagers's other sci-fi series (The Indranan War and The Farian War) and I was very excited to see what they could do with space opera set closer to Earth. While this book didn't have the instant magnetism of the previous books--in part because I had a hard time keeping the large cast straight in my head--once it's gets going, it's good.

The NEO-G are essentially the space coast guard. Under-funded and under-appreciated, they monitor th
Mike (the Paladin)
Shelves say enough...a few chapters in it was a tossup between falling asleep and vomiting.

...that was a little harsh, maybe a tossup between falling asleep and tossing the book out the window. You know because of the headache.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another great read from author KB Wagers! This romp combines a lot of the things I love to see in my space operas! Romance! Cool action hero antics! Emotional talks with partners! Amazing world building that has inclusivity built in!! I love Max the main character and her journey as she grows with her new NeoG team and found family. I love the games and how it felt like the olympics with a spirit of competition and togetherness. Jenks is amazing and it was so good to see them grow emotio ...more
3.5 Stars

Author K.B. Wagers latest series offers a space opera world that feels like the lovechild of The Expanse and Becky Chamber's Wayfarers series. Although it lacks the species diversity of Chamber's books, it does offer racial, orientation, and economic diversity, and the found family of the crew of Zuma's Ghost, a NeoG (Near-Earth Orbital Guard vessel is similar in feel to Wayfarers. Set in the 2400s, centuries after a worldwide societal collapse, A Pale Light in the Black is equal parts
steph // bookplaits
Overall, this was a really fun read! I enjoyed reading about the crew of Zuma’s Ghost and the ‘found family’ aspect of it was great. 🥺♥️ There was a fantastic amount of diversity too (including lesbian, asexual and non-binary characters) and I really liked each POV.

I had some issues with the writing and the overall plot though... First, the writing. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve been so used to reading first-person POV recently, but there were times when it took me a second to figure ou
Didi Chanoch
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book packs a LOT in a compact and efficient package. You've got space, mystery, military, romance, and sports rivalries. Wagers does a deft job of combining these elements, while freeing them from a whole bunch of toxic tropes. This book is a fun queer romp with a nice mystery and that good good team spirit many of us love. It's a book about a bunch of decent people trying to do their best to help other people and each other while also having fun. I certainly had fun reading it! ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published at Reading Reality

Military SF, done right, is one of the best things to read if you are looking for serious “competence porn”, and A Pale Light in the Black is definitely military SF done very, very right.

There have been plenty of milSF stories featuring various branches of the service taken into space. Often those services model the space forces around either the Navy, as in Honor Harrington, or the marines, like Torin Kerr. The concept of a space Army seems like a bit of a
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, arc
A close loss in the annual boarding games has haunted the crew of Zuma's Ghost in the NeoG, or Near-Earth Orbital Guard in KB Wagers new series which starts with A Pale Light in the Black. The crew is looking forward to this year's games which they feel confident will finally result in a win for the NeoG. Unexpectedly, their best swordsman is transferred and a new lieutenant, Maxine Carmichael, is assigned to take his place. Max is faced with a daunting task, trying to prove to herself and her t ...more
Leslie Allen
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I won a uncorrected proof copy in a twitter contest run by the author! Thank you!

"Live your truth, Whatever it is"

K.B. Wagers has done it again. Somehow, someway, she's written a set of characters that made me laugh, cry, and everything in-between. It's a messy, gloriously messy, group of characters that come together as a family that would do damn near anything and everything for each other.

short & sweet review:
-Ace and lesbian main characters, more queer people than you can shake
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a lot of fun with a lot of great characters. Um...and some romance. Yay!
Jeff Cosmi
Jan 31, 2020 rated it did not like it
Sorry this was a DNF at 25% for me. From the part that I did read the writing was good but just boring. Nothing happened that made me want to stay up for one more chapter let alone continue reading the next day. After reading some other reviews to see where to book is going and will eventually end up there’s just no need for me to sit through this. There are too many great to good books in my TBR list to make me want to spend any additional time with this one. Thanks to good reads for proving th ...more
Jan 24, 2019 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
'The NEO-G books are going to be a departure from the grimdark futures and instead focusing on a moment in time when humanity is at its best. This will be accessible science fiction with interesting characters and exciting action. Plus, we’re going to have all the things I know I love reading about: found family, snarky siblings, explosions, and triumphant celebrations.'


Kelly Knapp
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Good writing, well developed characters but I don't care to read LGBT and gender fluid stories. Many people want a notation if a book is specifically Christian, I want The same for LGBT.
Kristen Blount
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Fun, fun romp with space coasties...all about family, found, adopted, and born. I want more, and I want it now.
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some jobs, you need a military presence, but in space, as on the sea, there are lots of times where that's just overkill, and what you really need is law enforcement and rescue teams. On the high seas, that means the Coast Guard, but in space, it's the Near Earth Orbital Guard, NeoG. In either case, it's the service that get's the lion's share of the dirty work, dealing with smugglers, pirates, and shipwrecks, but not the big-budget that goes to the Navy. Lt Maxine Carmichael chose the Guard ...more
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
A sci-fi thing about some military-type crew in near-orbital space.

I'm really conflicted about this. It's not often that this particular problem plagues a book so hard.

So firstly, the good and great:
1) I rather liked the characterisation, there was some complexity to the main crew
2) The writing is solid stylistically, even the dialogue didn't stand out as a weakness (which is so often the case)
3) The whole LGBT and gender thing is nice, but less than seamless in a couple of places. Props nevert
C. S.
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it
DNF for several complicated reasons, which I'll go into, most of which have nothing to do with the book itself.

So, for whatever reason, I am just not feeling the space opera right now, and even I can't explain why I thought reading four of them in a row (and overlapping) would help that, but here we are. It has very probably colored my feelings about the book, so take this with a grain of salt.

Things I liked - the way the book acknowledges the existence of people other than straight white hetero
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Thank you goodreads for the ARC. I must have thought this was a regular mystery when I applied but it actually was a fantasy, not a genre I like. This was life in the galaxy after "The Collapse ", quote from pg. 89 "the Collapse was so far in humanity's past and yet affected everything moving forward. It seemed sometimes that it had been only yesterday that the world fell into chaos and ruin that's to the indifference and greed of humanity". Now in the 2400's we learn of life in the galaxy where ...more
Susan Welch
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much. There was so much queer representation in here it made my heart warm: there's aces, poly relationships, trans folks, enbies, etc. And a strong theme of chosen family, which resonates very well. My only complaint is the action is a little bit light for what you might expect from such a book, with some things glossed over entirely in favor of a "two weeks later" type approach. But the characters are interesting and well developed and the story lines are fun, both the ...more
Sharon Karpierz
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read

This book is Coast Guard in space and deals with non binary by having all AI tags include pronouns. The main character is ace and it is brought up very organically and is considered in the romance she is forming. It’s also a kick ass action adventure and a bit of a mystery. I really loved it.
Alexander Tas
Read this and other Science Fiction/Fantasy Reviews at The Quill to Live

Sometimes you read a book, and you’re not entirely sure how you feel about it. It’s hard to put into words how you would recommend it. Over time, you realize your gut feelings are just going to be the way you feel about it for a while. And it’s not necessarily the book’s fault; it’s more your expectations and taste that make it feel off. This book is one of those books for me, something I enjoyed, but after it was all said a
Very enjoyable. I loved the relationship dynamic between all of the characters, especially between Max and Jenks. It reminds me alot of the partnership between Harmony and Jessie in the Harmony Black series, one of my favourite friendships in fiction. Also the casual and extensive variety of sexualities, none of which were made a big deal out of, was a nice addition.
I did feel sometimes that certain scenes were missing, like a lot of the Games stuff seemed almost glossed over, but it didn't hamp
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
K.B. Wagers weaves another fantastic universe. Set in Earth's future about the heroes that keep the world safe. Well rounded characters and filled with drama and action. ...more
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K.B. Wagers is the author of the Indranan & Farian War trilogies with Orbit Books and the new NeoG novels from Harper Voyager. They hold a bachelor's degree in Russian Studies and a second-degree black belt in Shaolin Kung Fu. A native of Colorado, K.B. lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with their partner and a crew of recalcitrant cats. In between books, they can be found attempting to lea ...more

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