Literature / Across the Universe
Across the Universe
is a planned trilogy of sci-fi books by Beth Revis, set on a Generation Ship
making a slow sublight journey to a planet to set up a colony
. The future colonists are kept in cryogenic pods, while generation after generation of shippers keep the Godspeed
Amy, the teenage daughter of two essential personnel, is abruptly woken up while the ship is still en route when her cryogenic pod is unplugged — someone tried to murder her. Amy tries to adapt to the strange dystopian society aboard Godspeed
and track down the attempted murderer before he can do the same to any of the other colonists.
The story alternates between her perspective and that of Elder, the future leader-in-training of Godspeed
. He believes that the current leader, Eldest, is keeping secrets about the ship and its journey from them, and is determined to uncover them. He also has a crush on Amy, who is utterly unlike any of the other women on the ship.
The trilogy consists of:
- Across the Universe
- A Million Suns
- Shades of Earth
These books contain examples of:
- Action Girl: Amy becomes this in the third book.
- Aerith and Bob: For once inverted, Amy has the weirdest name on the ship because she's from Sol-Earth, Victria, Lorin, Bartie and Stevy are the norm.
- Played straight in Shades of Earth.
- Affectionate Nickname: Harley calls Amy "Lttle Fish" because her red hair reminds him of the koi fish he likes to paint.
- Age Gap Romance: Victria loves Orion, her twenty-years-older literary mentor. It's not known whether he feels the same way.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Amy is shunned by almost the entire population due to her unique appearance.
- Artistic License – Physics: Eldest's explanation of the broken engine, although this is lampshaded and subverted in the second book.
- Attempted Rape: Happens to Amy during the Season.
- And I Must Scream: Cryosleep, at least for Amy.
- Anyone Can Die: And how. Try not to become attached to anyone.
- Awful Truth: One of the messages of this book is that even an awful truth is better than a lie. Elder and Amy end up disclosing a lot of the ship's secrets, including the Phydus, the fact that Godspeed is 250 years behind schedule and the mutiny rather than keep the population in ignorance. Elder even confesses to Amy that he unplugged her, and she's grateful enough for his honesty to somewhat forgive him.
- In A Million Suns, we get another layer of secrets: it turns out Godspeed has been orbiting the new planet all along!.
- We get a ridiculous amount of secrets in Shades of Earth.
- Big Bad: Orion of the first book and Doc of the second.
- Bittersweet Ending: Yes! Amy and the rest of the ship managed to land...but more than five hundred ended up dead including both of her parents, war is right around the corner with Earth, Amy is now a hybrid and the murderer of both her parents walks free...but at least she's got Elder!.
- Binary Suns: Centauri-Earth has them.
- Blackand Gray Morality: How Colonel Martin deals with Centauri-Earth.
- Burial in Space: Referred to as being "sent to the stars".
- Calling the Old Man Out: Elder to Eldest, both times emphasized with a punch.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Amy finds it impossible to talk about her own Near-Rape Experience, so instead she focuses on Victria's.
- Captain's Log: In the second book, Amy finds one written by the original Eldest.
- Cloning Blues: Every Elder and Eldest is a clone of the Plague Eldest.
- Clean Pretty Reliable: In A Million Suns, Amy does this to Elder when he comes back from his space walk oxygen-deprived due to a malfunctioning suit.
- Cryonics Failure: Nearly happens to Amy; does happen to several other would-be colonists.
- Daddy's Girl: Amy.
- Depopulation Bomb: The Plague, which killed 3/4 of Godspeed's population. It's a lie.
- Driven to Suicide: Harley, followed by several people during Elder's Phydus-free regime who can't cope with uninhibited emotion.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Eldest tries to drown his troubled conscience with moonshine alcohol. After his death, Elder goes on a three-day drinking binge of his own.
- Drop Ship: The cargo section is converted into one, which Elder, Amy and a few of the colonists use to land on Centauri-Earth.
- Dystopia: The current state of Godspeed
- Designer Babies: All babies are genetically modified in utero to eliminate the effects of incest and bestow aptitude in certain areas.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Earth That Was: Contact with Earth was lost during the Plague, and it has become Shrouded in Myth on Godspeed.
- The Evils of Free Will: According to Eldest, individual thought is one of the three main causes of discord.
- Fiery Redhead: Amy.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Amy.
- Future Slang: "Frex"; "chutz"; "scamp out"; "uni"; "gen"; "brilly".
- Actually rather brilliant in terms of frex: the third book reveals a lot of stuff about the FRX, AKA the people behind the mission. Suffice it to say, using the acronym as a swear word is very fitting.
- Generation Ship: Godspeed
- Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The effect of Phydus.
- Got Me Doing It: Amy is appalled to catch herself cursing "frex!" and referring to her homeworld as Sol-Earth instead of Earth, as she's afraid of forgetting her heritage.
- Government Drug Enforcement: Drugs and hormones are pumped into the water supply to keep the population docile.
- He Knows Too Much: The real reason for Kayleigh's death.
- The reason for Emma's death in Book 3 as well.
- Harmless Freezing: Not quite. Even when done properly, the freezing process is rather unpleasant. When not done properly, the results are compared to a wet sponge. And even if someone is frozen and thawed safely, they can't survive the process a second time.
- Human Popsicle: Godspeed carries about a hundred of these, including Amy.
- In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race: Due to the limited gene pool on Godspeed, everyone currently living on the ship is the same race. The multiethnic cryogenically frozen colonists are therefore very visually distinct from them.
- Inadequate Inheritor: Eldest sees Elder as this. Not without reason, it turns out, considering the massive social upheavals in book two.
- Incest Is Relative: After the Plague killed 3/4 of the population, the limited gene pool made incest inevitable. Genetic engineering is used to mitigate the effects.
- Internal Retcon: Amy discovers that the historical database about Earth has been heavily edited.
- Karmic Death: Eldest dies from getting a bucket of Phydus dumped over him by Orion.
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Amy and Victria immobilize Luthe with a Phydus patch and kick the stuffing out of him as a revenge for being raped.
- Jerk Ass: Colonel Martin, Luthor, Doc, Eldest, Orion and Bartie come to mind.
- Literary Allusion Title: All the book titles in the series thus far are pulled directly from the lyrics of The Beatles' "Across the Universe."
- Love Makes You Evil: Victria's love for Orion, even after his being frozen, leads to her becoming a willing accessory to murder to have him revived.
- Love Triangle: One arises in Shades of Earth between Elder, Amy and Chris.
- Mad Artist: Played with. All the residents of the hospital's psychiatric ward are actually artists, scientists, engineers and other creative thinkers necessary to the running of the ship. They are more or less sane by the reader's standards, but labeled "crazy" to distinguish them from the mindless mainstream. The "medication" they take are actually pills to inhibit Phydus. Harley, a painter with dark mood swings, and Victria, an embittered novelist, are somewhat more straightforward examples of this trope.
- Meaningful Rename: The former Elder took on the name Orion, "the Hunter".
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Doc supports Eldest without question, even when the latter's extreme measures give him pause. This lands Elder in big trouble later on, since Doc is not loyal to the man so much as the system - and Elder's rule deviates from the plan. Later, Marae and Shelby do the same thing for Elder.
- Naming Your Colony World: They call their destination Centauri-Earth, as opposed to Sol-Earth.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: It turns out Elder unplugged Amy, without knowing it would nearly kill her, strand her in a hostile environment, separate her from her parents forever and give Orion the nasty idea of unplugging colonists just to see how he would react.
- Not So Different: Elder and Eldest, especially when they argue.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: There is no religion on Godspeed. Subverted in that this is explicitly done to keep the population passive.
- Precision F-Strike: It's not an official swear word, but on the one occasion Elder calls Amy a "freak" during an argument, the effect is just the same.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Elder is implied to have killed Luthe without a trial as punishment for raping Victria (and, unknown to him, nearly raping Amy). When Amy finds Luthe's body, she throws it out the airlock without telling anyone.
- Red Shirt: A lot of minor characters die in the second book.
- Relationship Upgrade: Elder and Amy in A Million Suns.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: An unusual example, seen through the eyes of the leader rather than the revolutionaries. Poor Elder really has enough on his plate without having angry anarchists rioting against him.
- Red Pill, Blue Pill: Orion, via posthumous letters, offers Amy a choice that will determine the fate of the ship - risk untold dangers by colonizing Centauri-Earth, or stay aboard a slowly degrading Godspeed? Justified as she's the only one who knows what life on a planet is like.
- The Rival: Bartie, Elder's former friend who challenges him for leadership.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Harley still feels this way about his girlfriend, who died two years before the story starts. "Why would I want to be with any other woman?"
- Elder also comes to mind, averted with Amy who
- Small, Secluded World: Godspeed
- Space Friction: The "adrift if the engine stops" fallacy is in play, deliberately invoked by the Shippers to hide the fact that the ship isn't moving at all.
- Super OCD: Doc. This makes him the villain of the second book, since he sees anything that deviates from his view of "order" as needing to be "fixed" with drugs, lethal ones if necessary.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: Eldest threatens Amy with this.
- Many characters receive this fate, Victria and Shelby come to mind.
- This happens to five hundred people, including Amy's mother, in the third book.
- Totalitarian Utilitarian: Eldest and his predecessors. "Doesn't matter how. Just keep the frexing ship alive."
- Tracking Device: Everyone on the ship has one implanted in one of their ears.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Elder feels this way about Eldest.
- We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: For those over 60. Specifically those who remember the last time the prediction of when the ship would land was pushed back
- Wham Line: "There was never any Plague."
- Elder: "I'm the one who unplugged you."
- With a Friend and a Stranger: Elder, Harley, and Amy fit this trope, until Harley's suicide, that is.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: The 20-year-old Feeders are looking forward to planet landing in 49 years - in a society where everyone dies at 60. The Feeders are put down when they start remembering the last time such a prediction was made - there is no reason an individual would expect that to happen to them.
- You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Doc to Amy in A Million Suns. He's wrong, but being a soldier's daughter who knows how to handle guns, she manages to shoot him in a nonlethal place.
- Your Cheating Heart: Back on Earth, a jealous ex informed Amy that her boyfriend Jason might have been cheating on her. Her greatest regret is not confronting him about it.