the Little Red Reviewer

The Gate to Futures Past, by Julie Czerneda

Posted on: September 4, 2017

The Gate to Futures Past (Reunification #2) by Julie Czerneda

published in Sept 2016

where I got it: rec’d review copy from the publisher (Thanks DAW!)










The Gate to Futures Past is a tricky book to review, because not only is this the middle book of the Reunification trilogy, it is the penultimate book in Czerneda’s long running Clan Chronicles series. I actually read this book last summer when it came out, but I didn’t have time to review it. What better time for a review, than when the next book is about to come out? I also have the benefit of having already read the final book in the series, so I am cheating  more than a  little bit.   With the final book in this series releasing in just a few months, readers new to this series will have an opportunity no one else has ever had – you’ll be able to read all three Reunification books, This Gulf of Time and Stars, The Gate to Futures Past, and To Guard Against the Dark, one right after the other. That’s to your advantage, as these last three books do read as one long novel.  Click here to read my spoilery review of This Gulf of Time and Stars.  And by the way, both This Gulf of Time and Stars and The Gate to Futures Past are now available in mass market paperback.


Did you cringe when you read that phrase “long running series”?  I know some of you did! Yes, the Clan Chronicles is a space opera epic that spans three trilogies. If you’ve read any of Robin Hobb’s interconnected trilogies, you know you can jump in at any Book 1, and do just fine.  I’m sure there are readers and fans who will disagree with me, but I believe the same is true for Czerneda’s  Clan Chronicles series – so long as you jump in at any Book 1, you’ll be ok, with the added bonus that if you enjoy what you read, you can then start again at any other book 1!  It’s neat, because if you and your friend each start at a different point, you’ll have a different timeline and a different perspective of the entire story.


I preamble with all of that so you’ll be understanding that this review will involve references to events that occurred outside this novel, that there will be unavoidable minor spoilers. It’s all to the greater good though – if you enjoy space opera with healthy dose of romance, family drama, cosmic mystery, humor, and aliens that work, anything Julie Czerneda writes is for you!


“Aliens that work”, that’s a weird phrase.  You ever read a book with aliens and think to yourself these are just humans with blue skin, or elephants that talk and think just like a human?  A biologist by trade, Czerneda’s aliens act differently than humans because they have biological evolutionary histories completely different from anything that evolved on Earth.  They have different physiologies, different brain patterns, different reasons for doing what they do and how they do it. If you want to write aliens that aren’t humans in disguise, quit watching Star Trek and start reading Czerneda. (Actually, keep watching Star Trek. I keep hoping Huido will show up in an episode of DS9 or Voyager)

One last thing before I get to the spoilery bits – Can I just say how happy I am to read a space opera with sex positive relationships?   Sira and Jason have been together for years, and they are still in that madly in love with each other honeymoon stage. They finish each other’s sentences, they flirt with each other, they have in-jokes and nicknames for each other, they take advantage of privacy. It’s the cutest thing, and their happiness makes me happy. I get it – the distances involved, and dangers of space travel make healthy romance seem untenable, and so many space opera novels give good reasons why characters aren’t with or can’t be with the people they love. But isn’t it nice to read about characters who do get to be with the people they love?


Ok, and now to talk about The Gate to Futures Past with as few major spoilers as possible.


The story takes place immediately following the final events in the previous book, This Gulf of Time and Stars, with Sira, Jason, and the rest of their surviving family and newly found “cousins” aboard a colony ship, Sona, a ship that everyone had thought was just a building, until it launched.  No one knows Sona’s destination or how long it will take them to arrive, and the onboard computer answers few requests.  Sira had asked the ship to take them home, and while she regrets not being more specific, she knows the only way to ease the pain of her family is for the Clan to discover their true origins.


The only human on board, Jason Morgan spends his days exploring the ship and messing with anything that isn’t nailed down.  Sira’s species may have powerful telepathy and teleportation skills, but they haven’t a clue how machines or radios work.  Talented Clan family members being dependent on the knowledge of a lowly human? How sad!  And embarrassing!


To make matters worse, having this many clan members in close quarters is never a good idea, as these are people who have spent the last few generations taking advantage of each other, arranging marriages between people who can’t stand each other, abusing and manipulating anyone they can, and generally being horrible. In many ways, their distasteful behavior is a mask for their vulnerabilities, but their telepathic powers make close quarters even worse.  Can they get to wherever this ship is taking them without killing each other?


Sprinkled throughout the first half of the novel are hints and guesses about the Hoveny Concentrix, an ancient civilization that seeded the known galaxy with the technologies needed for space travel, and other technologies we still don’t understand.  And then the Concentrix disappeared.  Jason finds artifacts on Sona that he suspects are Hoveny artifacts. In the quiet and boredom of a colony ship that needs no crew, conversations abound around the Concentrix and the question of which is more important – the future or the past? Can you have a future without knowing your past?  Does knowledge of you past then lock you into a particular future?   You know, those are pretty important questions for anyone, even if that person isn’t a character in a space opera.


It’s the second half of the novel where the plot really takes off. The ship arrives. . .  somewhere. One of a convoy, no one expected Sona to ever come home. In fact, it’s been so many years that for some people on this planet, the convoy is a myth.  Others have perpetuated the belief that the convoys are a myth, to hide their own dark secrets.


Sira and her family are desperate for answers. But is this a truth they really want to hear? Sira and her family assume that the truth is something as simple as “this is the planet you came from, this is where your ancestors lived, the end”.   Ha Ha, not that simple!! Good thing Czerneda is an author who doesn’t do simple. Leave it to a biologist to write a space opera that revolves around evolutionary biology.  Oh, there is so much more I want to tell you, but it would spoil everything!!


Will the answers about their origin strengthen the Clan, or destroy them?


In October of this year, when To Guard Against the Dark is released, all will be revealed.  In October, an epic story that has been twenty years in the making will come to a close.

2 Responses to "The Gate to Futures Past, by Julie Czerneda"

OMG, this sounds so cool! Am adding it to my wish list right now! Awesome review!


great! just make sure you start with a book 1. 😉


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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