On a Sunbeam

Tillie Walden

Book cover

This was a really different take on “sci-fi,” which I liked. The book was originally published as a web-comic, and if you read Tillie Walden’s own description, she says that she basically just wanted to make a”space book” so that she could draw weird and beautiful backgrounds. That worked out really well, I would say. The universe that Walden draws uses a limited but vibrant color palette, and is lush and ornate. A lot of the imagery is biological (the spaceships look like koi), plus there are a lot of old buildings, which the spaceship crew are contracted to fix up.

At heart, this book is about the ad hoc family that is formed by the crew-members, as well as about the budding relationship between Mia and Grace (covering a couple different time periods). These are depicted very tenderly and, I think, realistically. All of the characters are interesting and have distinct personalities, although one issue I had was that I couldn’t always distinguish characters visually (especially with some characters changing appearance between time periods).

Finally, I give huge props to Walden for writing a sci-fi book with no male characters, and not making any in-story deal of it (“all the men disappeared because…” or “this is an all-female crew because…”). I took this as a clapback to the long sci-fi tradition of writing books with all male characters for no particular reason.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars