Sunblood by Maria Mora

Sunblood by Maria Mora
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (95 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet, M/M
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Caleb, sub-citizen 45201, is a psychic slave in the massive biodome known as the City — the only civilized community left on his wasted planet. He can’t remember his life before he was taken to the City and experimented on by scientists trying to control his unusual gift. Despite having no rights, Caleb knows his life isn’t all that bad. His Keeper, Daniel, secretly allows him to play in the minds of the City’s inhabitants. Caleb likes Daniel — probably more than he should — and once in a while the cafeteria has some delicious cookies. Caleb’s small freedoms don’t seem like all that much until even those are threatened. When Caleb is targeted by those who fear his powers, he discovers exactly how much he has to lose.

There’s a big difference between surviving from one day to the next and truly living. If only Caleb could remember what that difference was.

I was completely fascinated by Caleb’s powers. What they were and how he used them weren’t revealed right away, so it was interesting to slowly piece together the facts about this part of his life as the plot progressed. Ms. Mora struck a smart balance between giving me enough information to know what was going on in a particular scene and keeping other details quiet until they, too, needed to be revealed.

It would have been really helpful to have more world building in this story. The society that Caleb and Daniel live in sounded incredibly complex, so I was surprised by how little time was spent explaining how it all worked. To be more specific, there appeared to be a strong mismatch between the level of technology that the City relied on for its survival and the types of resources that were still available on what was otherwise a severely damaged, depleted planet.

Fear can prod people into doing things they’d never otherwise consider. Some of the best scenes explore how this works and why all of us are susceptible to it. One of the reasons why I enjoy this genre so much is that it’s so well-suited to bringing up these kinds of topics in a reader’s mind without ever literally asking us what we think of that idea. There’s definitely something to be said for approaching certain themes in this manner, and this book did a good job at it.

Sunblood caught my attention. It’s something I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys science fiction set in the distant future.

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