Stargun Messenger Book Tour!

Welcome to the next stop on the book tour for Stargun Messenger by Darby Harn! I’ve loved this book ever since I read an advanced reader copy, and I’m grateful to Escapist Book Co. for giving me another chance to talk about this fast-paced, imaginative, and stellar (forgive the pun) space opera!

Cover art by Al Hess [Image description: A sketched figure of a woman with long hair wearing a jacket over a futuristic jumpsuit holds a curved blaster. “Stargun Messenger, Darby Harn” is written up the side of the cover with a simple four-pointed star in the corner.]

Book Review

“Sometimes, I wake up and forget I’m not human.

Then I get a message with a new job and within a lighthour I’m plodding through a derelict ore processing facility with a hangover of equal or greater mass than the planetary fragment I’m on. I shouldn’t have had that last bottle of babyl. At least then I’d have it now.”

Reality, memory, and time are slippery things for the main character Astra Idari, a netic who takes on jobs as a stargun for hire. Her mechanical body is at constant odds with her sense of humanity, and even though she tries to cut herself off from her past, parts of it seep through.

Not helping is CR-UX, her ship’s AI and the voice in her head, a familiar presence that she can’t live with but can’t live without. But when Emera, a living star on the run from those who would use her blood for fuel, enters Idari’s life, Idari faces a life-changing choice: turn her in for the paycheck, or help Emera save her people from annihilation.

With a vivid, space-sprawling style reminiscent of Samuel R. Delany, Harn creates a unique cyclical narrative that brings Idari’s destructive habits and yearning for a better life to the surface. The setting is always changing, the action sequences are punchy, and the slippery dream-like sense of reality readily pulls the reader into the exact moment of the story. And with each encounter, Idari learns a little bit more about who she is and what she wants for her future. But can a netic become fully human?

It took me a couple of chapters to find the rhythm of the book, but Harn’s style is so imaginative that it was worth the little bit of extra work. Ultimately, Idari’s struggle to fully become who she is and her relationship with CR-UX kept me engaged in the story right until the end. There are incredible set pieces throughout, a loveable untrustworthy pirate, a sapphic love story, and introspective themes about identity and belonging. Highly recommended for science fiction fans who are looking for a fresh take on the space opera genre!

Content Warnings:

Shown on Page (things clearly told to the reader): Alcohol abuse
Alluded to (things only mentioned in passing or hinted at): Transphobia (villains are not nice)

This review is also up on the Goodreads page for Stargun Messenger!

About the Author

Darby Harn is the author of the SPSFC quarterfinalist Ever The Hero, which Publisher’s Weekly called “an entertaining debut that uses superpowers as a metaphor to delve into class politics in an alternate America.” His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, and other venues. Visit for more!

I hope you enjoyed this stop on the Stargun Messenger book tour! Not ready to return to Earth? You can follow along with the full book tour here!


One response to “Stargun Messenger Book Tour!”

  1. […] Brittni Brinn says Stargun Messenger has ‘a vivid, space-sprawling style reminiscent of Samuel R. Delany!’ […]

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