The novel “Stargazer: Judgment Day” (“Stargazer: Weltenrichter”) by Ivan Ertlov was published for the first time in 2022 and translated from German by Marly Gram. It’s the fourth book in the After Terra series and follows “Stargazer: Civil War“.
In the Council that rules the Protectorate, there’s confusion when the Plachtharr Alliance withdraws its fleets from the borders. This turns into panic when the Plachtharr Ambassador formally requests military support. The reason is the approach of a cosmic entity capable of devouring everything it finds, an entity part of the nightmares of all sentient species, even when they have never actually seen it. Humans know it as Yog-Sothoth.
When old enmities are put aside and even pirate fleets arrive to join the final battle, the situation seems desperate. However, hope comes from the ancient technologies that produced the starship Yrsha restoring its weapons to their full power. Frank Gazer and his crew are ready to join the fight with the knowledge that this time the enemy is the most dangerous entity they have ever faced.
The After Terra series is set centuries after the destruction of Earth. It’s inspired by classic science fiction with a strong element of space adventure in an interstellar community full of sentient species, not necessarily friendly.
This series combined serious themes and moments of humor but in “Stargazer: Judgment Day” the prospect of destruction involving at least one galactic spiral arm determines a tone that’s generally dark with some explicitly Lovecraftian inspiration. There are still a few light-hearted moments but the judgment day atmosphere and the ensuing panic are definitely prevalent.
Ivan Ertlov created a fictional universe with a spiral arm of the Milky Way full of sentient species with very different physical characteristics, to the point that one of intelligent trees is included. However, these species share the same instincts, emotions, and feelings therefore they react the same way in times of crisis. The consequence is that cosmic horror is intertwined with horrors on much pettier levels.
The story of the evacuation of the threatened areas of space is the one that includes the most serious themes of the novel. A complete evacuation is impossible and some of the available seats on the rescue starships are sold to the highest bidder. On the planets where refugees arrive, various types of fake news get spread, often completely absurd, but many natives believe it anyway. The parallel with crises that occurred, or are currently occurring, on Earth is quite transparent.
The situation that emerges is critical to the point that the starship Yrsha seems the only hope. It’s the product of very ancient and extremely advanced technologies that the sentient species existing in the future described by Ivan Ertlov are not capable of reproducing. The author included various details that explain the story of Yrsha and the crew led by Frank Gazer but to fully understand it, you need to read the previous books in this series.
The starship Yrsha appears to be the only one with weapons that can destroy the entity that threatens the entire spiral arm. However, the perception is of an enemy that is potentially lethal even for the most advanced starship around. Together with the refugee crisis, this creates growing tension.
All this makes “Stargazer: Judgment Day” another novel full of fast-paced action and twists in the After Terra series. The adventurous component and the presence of many aliens are always important parts, which is why it’s a series I recommend especially to lovers of space opera with many alien species.