“The Stars do not Lie” falls in the “Steam Punk” category: industrial revolution, air ships, alternate history vibe. The alternate history is very thinly veiled: replace Roman Catholic church with the Increate, and the Illuminati (or your favorite science cult) with the Thalassojustity, and set it in Industrial revolution London/Rome/Alps and then add Airships, and you are good. Oh, and throw in that in this world, black skinned and dark skinned races become dominant, and the paler skinned races are considered lower class and less intelligent, and boom, you’ve got Jay Lake’s world building. Unfortunately, as simplistic as it sounds, he spends a whole lot of time delving and parading it, when you really just want to say “yeah, I got it, move on please”. Note: reverse racism doesn’t solve racism. It is just another form of racism. The same way reverse sexism is just another form of sexism. At least IMO.
The story itself has a really gripping conflict that I feel is encumbered by excessive exposition sadly. He has three viewpoint characters, and the character you think is going to be the protagonist unfortunately becomes relegated to spineless side character in a jiffy. The other two VP characters are old, and stuffy, and stubborn. Oh, and old. You can’t seem to turn a page without one of the character’s complaining about how old, or how tired, or how old AND tired they are. This likewise, along with the world builder’s disease syndrome, really hampers the narrative.
However, this is a Hugo nominee, and it does deserve it’s merit. The airship transportation allows for some rather amazing locals as far as a steampunk novel is concerned. Also, the religious focus, even though a little heavy handed (science vs religion, who will win? who is right? who is less of a hypocrite), is not too straw-man, and the conflict (though inevitable and one sided as far as the author presents it) is rather climatic. Oh, and there are airships AND spaceships! Ending is weak, but does leave one to wonder. And also hate the protagonist more for being a wimp. I give “The Stars do not Lie” by Jay Lake a solid 3.5/5, as far as the Hugo nominees are concerned.[Taken from Asimovs.com]“Jay Lake lives in Portland, Oregon, where he works on numerous writing and editing projects. His 2012/2013 books are Kalimpura (Tor) and Love in the Time of Metal and Flesh (Prime). His short fiction appears regularly in literary and genre markets worldwide. Jay is a past winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and a multiple nominee for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. The author can be reached through his blog at jlake.com. Jay’s first story for us since October/ November 2005 treats us to a far-future tale of intrigue, daring acts of defiance, and the sudden revelation that . . .THE STARS DO NOT LIE”