★★★★★ In M.L.S. Weech’s Sojourn in Captivity: A Perception of War Novella, a young alien named Elele has a disconcerting run-in with her planet’s god, Adhol, which tears her family apart—and threatens to end her entire species, too. Oron is home to a winged species known as the Seferam, who are occasionally invited to embark on a pilgrimage and meet Adhol in the city of Wieder. Imbued with the ability to channel bio-electromagnetic energy, Adhol ‘s mission is to transform the Seferam into evolved entities known as the Var’lechen. Nearly everyone views this as a blessing, vying for their god’s attention and fervently praying that their turn will soon come. Yet, some Seferam—a growing number, it seems—fail the transformation and are shunned by society as a result. When Elele’s family is summoned to Wiedel to be transformed by Adhol, the results of their encounter will send ripples of rebellion across the entire planet.
With Sojourn in Captivity, Weech weaves together heavy threads of both science fiction and fantasy to create an alluring tapestry of intrigue, terror, and beauty on an alien planet. Weech’s protagonist, Elele, is a math prodigy, and the author seems to approach his written work with the same methodology. Meticulously plotted, this is a tight, tantalizing introduction to a new world—and a new enemy. Essential plot pieces are set in place here for future series entries, but the real attraction is Weech’s world-building. Animals, trees and plants, domestic customs, and planetary weather phenomena are all described in detail, giving a well-formed view of life on Oron. All in all, this is a promising start to a fresh sci-fi series.