Title: Nebula’s Music
Author: Aubrie Dionne
Publisher: Lyrical Press, Inc. 2009
Each note brings her one step closer to the truth.
When the cyborg Nebula plays the piano she experiences memories from a time before her creation. These memories—which involve a captive rebel fighter being held on their ship—bring with them complex human feelings and awaken a desire for her to discover her origins.
Radian is the long-lost love of the woman from which Nebula was made. He’s vowed to avenge his fiancé’s death and rescue her sister from the Gryphonites, a fierce race out to enslave the galaxy.
Nebula grapples with her identity and how much of who she is comes from someone else’s past. She is not the woman that died, yet she is undeniably drawn to Radian. Together Nebula and Radian seek to rescue his fiancé’s sister and end the Gryphonites’ cruel reign. But can Radian learn to love again and can Nebula accept a past made from someone else’s memories?
When I think cyborgs I tend to think along the lines of Data of Star Trek fame, so I was quite unprepared for author Dionne’s interpretation of an age-old theme. It took me a while to get used to the idea of a cyborg that had so many human attributes but, without dropping a spoiler into the works, I was satisfied by the author’s explanation at the end of the novel.
This story plays on the standard trope based on Azimov’s robotic laws, but brings into the equation also the question of what constitutes life. Although the scope of this work is not such that it is going to go into the nitty-gritty of artificial intelligence, it does touch on an intelligence coming to terms with the issues of its origins.
The core of Nebula’s Music is a love story, of a romance that will transcend the bounds of what would be considered ordinary for that milieu. Nebula has to face the memories of the woman who was her origin and it is her acceptance of her own uniqueness despite this start in awareness that is the crux of the story, when she has to find a way to balance her sense of duty to those she has been programmed to serve while finding closure with her own issues.
I enjoyed Nebula’s journey, which was both one of self-discovery and that of rescue. The Gryphonites as antagonists were an interesting departure from some of the alien life forms I have encountered, although I would have liked to have seen more of their culture so they weren’t merely cast as the antagonists in this story.
I would have liked to have seen the try/fail cycle pushed a little harder with this tale. I felt the protagonists’ success against the enemy went off a bit too effortlessly but overall, the writing is slick and concise.
What added depth to this tale was definitely the all too-human flashbacks Nebula suffered, which kept me wondering about the true nature of the cyborgs in this milieu and what made them more human than the others I’ve encountered in other settings.
If you like narrative-driven space opera romances, Nebula’s Music will definitely deliver the kind of story that will keep the pages turning.
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