The Sehnsucht Series, Part II

written by Keyla Damaer

Our book today is essentially a collection of short stories tied together in time and space through a universe of its author’s creation1. And while this world of Damaer’s takes plenty of inspiration from the Star Trek Universe (a ship named MonCapitaine, anyone?), it is not, as far as I can tell, part of Star Trek proper. These worlds, its inhabitants, and everything else appear to be meant as a stand-alone vision.

Tales comprises 6 short stories, a glossary, and details on the main non-human species the book takes as its focus, the Manderians. The glossary and Manderian backstory are helpful, since Damaer lets her imagination run free in terms of non-English words the reader will want to look up. I’m not a particular fan of this sort of Tolkien approach — from any author — but lots of other people are, so I can’t say all these new words are a problem in general. Just know you’ll be scrolling over to the Glossary every few pages to make sure you know what the characters are talking about.

The novel’s short stories are not independent from one another. They trace events over a period of a few years, following an upheaval the characters orbit like dust caught in a black hole’s accretion disk; whatever their individual interests or desires might be, the gravity of this event forces them to obey its particular orbital mechanics, no matter how they might try to escape.

Damaer has a matter-of-fact, self-contained writing style. Clearly the characters in these stories are meant to be the focal point, so here is not an author intent on getting noticed for linguistic acrobatics; instead, dialogue and rather spartan levels of description lead us through the stories, require us to clean the glasses of our mind’s eye and take a good look around.

Given all this, does the collection work as a stand-alone piece? Sure. I didn’t get to know what happened to the characters I came to identify with, but, if anything, this made me go to Damaer’s website and consider finding out more in the other five books of the series. And any writing that piques a reader’s interest so they get thinking about more books from the same universe is a good thing, right?

In short, I recommend The Manderian Directorate as six slices of a pie you can consume at your leisure. Take little bites or large, when you find nothing left but the crumbs you’ll be thinking about more.

1 Star-Trek Fanling: I can’t criticize here. I’ve got two Star Trek fan fictions of my own.

See my review of Keyla Damaer’s The Parallelscoming July 19