SandGreyGirl just lost her mother and abhors her father, especially after what her mother revealed about him. She just wants to bury her sacred things at Pela’s pilgrimage place on the Fifth World. She finds a book with messages in that place. What could her mother have needed to say? After emerging from her sweat lodge, she sees an alien ship touch down, just as her mother did some twenty years before. What emerges looks just like her mother. That right there solidifies what she knew in her heart, that her mother was murdered and this fake mother was the reason why. The alien race seeded this planet a long time ago, as they have other planets, to someday return and reclaim it. Sand’s people came to this planet a mere 100 years ago, sent to colonize. They brought with them their ancient Hopi and Zuni cultural ways and beliefs. Now, many factions are heading towards a collision – Sand and Tuchvala, Tuchvala’s alien sisters, the leaders of the colony, and the leader of the mother planet. Who will prevail? You must dive into the journey yourself to find out!
Greg Keyes, author of the Elder Scrolls, Babylon 5, and the Age of Unreason fantasy series, brings his remastered novel, Footsteps In The Sky, and its dark future to the shelves. He wrote this 1st novel years ago, but it remained unpublished until now. It is not an easy read, at least for the first chapter. It takes a little bit to find the connection.
And you do find it.
During the introduction to Pela, her harsh solitude, farming, and beliefs (or non-beliefs), it is easy to get distracted away from the book. Once you read past that first chapter, its theme of political machinations and intrigue transcends time. Throw in the alien planet seeders, determining if the Fifth World should be sterilized or is worth saving, and you have a damn compelling read. Keyes doesn’t lob the exposition at you. He makes you work for it. So while I usually eat right through books (as one has to do as a reviewer), I had to purposely slow down so as not to miss the next clue or subtle exchange. The characters are secret-keepers, not only to the other characters, but to the readers as well.
It has 288 pages, not long by novel standards, because Keyes doesn’t waste words. They seem chosen carefully. The parts you will feel most drawn to are the characters struggling within themselves. My favorites are Teng, warrior who could kill her lover Alvar with her hands, and Tuchvala, alien infused within a clone of Sand’s dead mother (sort of). Watching Teng soften, and Tuchvala develop human and maternal feelings, and be completely confused by them (she’s actually confused by everything – even pissing), is very satisfying.
Open Road Integrated Media press release:
In Footsteps In The Sky, SandGreyGirl is a descendent of pueblo peoples like the Hopi and Zuni. Her grandparents made the one-way trip to the Fifth World, hoping to return to their way of life and the Kachina spirits that nurtured them. Sand has her doubts, but longs to believe that the real Kachinas live beyond the stars, and made this world ready for her people. Someone has been seeding planets; nine habitable worlds have been found spanning the galaxies. But no other sign of the aliens was discovered – until now. They’ve returned to the Fifth World, and they do not like what they find.