The Vanished Birds

Simon Jimenez
The Vanished Birds Cover

The Vanished Birds


Simon Jiminez really hits it out of the park with his brilliant debut space opera 'The Vanished Birds'. It is hard to credit that this work is a first novel. The prose is poised and confident, and reads clear and true throughout. Jiminez manages the millennial sweep of time encompassed by the narrative effortlessly, yet does not confuse or discombobulate the reader as he changes the POV character.

It is overarchingly a story of family and of coming full circle. But it is also a story of loss, regret and of pain.

It begins on a corporate world, where the happy inhabitants toil in the fields knowing nothing else but supplying their crops to the spacers who appear like clockwork every 15 years. Kaeda yearns for something more, but settles for a smaller but no less important destiny when his dreams are ignored by visiting spacer Nia Imani. Nia nevertheless revisits him through his long life. He takes on the care of a lost and mysterious boy to cherish, and to close the circle, passes him on to Nia to find the boy's destiny when Kaeda's time is soon to end, and Nia's long time-stretched mission is also at its end.

On distant Earth, Fumiko Nakajima has to choose between love and the job of her dreams in the corporate behemoth that is Umbai Company. She chooses her career, and so designs the stations which will allow humanity to roam the stars, as windjammer starships sail and fold the inky black seas of Pocket Space. But she also dreams of the Jaunt, the ability to instantaneously transit the light years and end to tyranny of time. Her wealth and influence allow her to identify and seek the one with the gift of which she dreams. For she has heard the tale of Kaeda's mysterious boy. And so destiny brings her together with Nia Imani and her windjammer starship Becky who she sends far to the fringes of known space, not to return until the boy's destined ability blooms.

Betrayal and tragedy await them all, even as they form and break families together. It is quite a spectacular ride, and sticks the landing with satisfying ease. Bravo indeed.