This was a very fun read. I’m skimming the acknowledgements as I start to write this, and the author says that the inspiration for Annihilation Aria was “what would it look like to try to write something that made me feel the way the Guardians of the Galaxy movie did?” In my opinion, Underwood achieved that—big galaxy, lots of different species each doing their own thing, and some truly epic scaled Big Bads. And, of course, a single human who stumbled into it all, trying to make his way through.
Where this is better than Guardians is that character: instead of Peter Quill’s constant posturing and hamming it up, Max is a scholar, a nerd, and… secure in his masculinity. He makes an excellent foil for Lahra, who’s something akin to a warrior princess from a lost tribe; where Quill would likely default to insecurity and trying to feign warrior prowess to match, Max is quite happy to let her shine, and be the expert in his own domain. The two of them have a very positive relationship, and it was genuinely delightful to read—seeing healthy interactions like that isn’t nearly as common as it should be, and I’m all in favor of good role models.
The actual plot is quite fun, as well. Somewhere between Indiana Jones and Stargate Atlantis, and the combination feels very cinematic. I’d love to see a movie adaptation of this, although the special effects budget would have to be on par with the latest Star Wars film.
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