Sweep of Stars, by Maurice Broaddus, is a fantastic afro-futurist story that dives into the community versus the individual, the long reach of slavery, and what healing from oppression looks like. It shows a future where control of all the resources isn’t solely in the clutches of mainstream white culture, nor are the European and American cultures the ones leading humans across the stars. 

Tor Books, 368pp., 978-1250264930, March 2022

The year is 2121, and the Muungano empire spreads across the stars with bases on the Moon and Titan and the starship Cypher. A group of people helps lead this community-minded powerhouse. This group’s influence is far-reaching and they have no trouble putting aside their personal lives and feelings for the good of the community.  

When Camara Xola dies, murder is suspected, and the confusion of needing to pick a new Camara begins. Adding to the burden, Maya mysteriously goes offline on the Cypher and no one can figure out why, but it leaves a hole in the community that isn’t just about the AI’s presence. The not-to-distant oppressors, ever lurking in the shadows to disrupt, divide, and steal, begin to press in from within the empire as well as without. Muungano’s leaders find themselves in a circle of intrigue that has them struggling to put the community before their personal lives. Meanwhile, on the other side of the wormhole, a division of soldiers explores a planet for life and natural recourses. What they come across is unexpected and tests every survival instinct they have.

The essence of family is embedded in this novel—not the individual family cell, but the broader sense of a people as family. It encourages the reader to reflect on the destruction that too much focus on the individual can inflict. One of the battles in these pages is about  the fight to remember the past without letting it overwhelm you, all while keeping others from falling back into habits that would allow others to steal and control lives. Sweep of Stars is a rousing novel of overcoming, strength, and wisdom. 

The novel has a large cast of characters with unique voices. Split into several POVs and written with a mix of perspectives: first person, second person, different genders and non-binary, and third person limited, the narrative gives the reader various voices and backgrounds. It’s a fun style of storytelling and Broaddus takes full advantage of its strength and influence.  

The beginning of a trilogy, Sweep of Stars is an engrossing read filled with culture, spiritualism, and adventure. Enjoy a weekend with the Muungano empire.  

§

Disclosure Notice: Maurice Broaddus is the special fiction editor for Apex Magazine.