Protector is a direct continuation from where Intruder left off. As such, it is a tangled mess of the continued “Shadow Guild” arc plus some additional crises. Tabini and Damiri relationship has become extremely strained as a consequence of the events of the previous book, yet despite the continuing familial and political strife, Cajeiri finally gets permission for his human friends to visit him. This visit turns out to have some serious political ramifications, due in part to the atevi political climate and also due to increased tensions between Mospheirans, the ship, and the refugees from Reunion station. Continue reading
The Heretic is the latest in the long-running General series by David Drake and one of several writers. (The original series was co-written with S.M. Stirling. The first book in the latter series was co-written with Stirling, but Drake has switched co-writers since them.) I do not recommend the original series unless you are completely acclimated to Stirling’s early work, which was heavy on the “I have to show you how grotty and violent the world is with graphic eroticized sexual violence.”) Continue reading
The Rapture of the Nerds is one of those books where I am pretty sure it’s supposed to be funny, but none of the jokes hit my funny bone. This is a post-Singularity novel where a good portion of humanity have “uploaded” and left Earth. The rest of the world is pretty okay with this state of affairs except for the USA which has been engaged in the kind of isolationist policy where you actively try to murder anyone who gets within range of your AI-run defense systems.
Dreamsnake is an expansion of Vonda McIntyre’s award winning novella, “Of Mist and Grass and Sand.” It’s a post-apocalyptic story about a healer named “SNAKE,” who uses snakes as part of her work. (She is not a faith healer or “snake handler.” She uses genetically engineered snakes as a kind of living hypodermic needle for chemotherapy, and uses their venom to create medicines and vaccines.) When one of her snakes is killed, a rare, alien snake whose venom acts as a kind of sedative, she goes on a quest of sorts to get a new one.
The combination of low tech with extremely advanced bio-science was interesting to me from a world building standpoint. I am also kind of struck by a) the complete gender equality of the setting b) the “sex is separate from reproduction because we are magically able to control our fertility” thing c) the use of “partner” in place of “husband” or “wife,” implying that this is a fundamentally different social arrangement. So you have a kind of vaguely hippy-ish culture contrasted by some groups keeping slaves and other places have only recently done away with the practice. Continue reading
The Best of All Possible Worlds involves a science fiction setting vaguely reminiscent of Ursula LeGuin’s Hainish novels (mostly because the worldbuilding involves a loose federation of related humanoid species). Our protagonist is a woman named Delarua who has the task of assisting refugees settling on her home planet. During the course of the novel, she has various adventures and eventually enters a relationship with one of the refugees, a man named Dllenanakh. She also gets into a nasty family situation and an even nastier political one. Continue reading
In Explorer, Bren navigates between ship/station politics and making diplomatic contact with an alien presence.
Just before the ship’s arrival at the space station, he learns the full extent of the information Ramirez withheld from both his crew and the planetary governments he had been negotiating with. It turns out that the space station was attacked as a result of Ramirez completely screwing up a first contact with the aliens he encountered. (Hint: Not replying to an attempt to communicate and then zipping for home can generally be seen as a hostile action by anyone with a brain.) Continue reading
Forge of Heaven takes place hundreds of years after the events of Hammerfall, and takes place on a space station above “Marak’s World,” a planet being “remediated” after having been bombarded from space in an effort to destroy extremely dangerous “First Movement” nanotechnology. The political and social situation in the satellite is extremely complicated, a delicate balance of three governments and two species. Our Hero is Jeremy Stafford, who prefers the name Procyon. He has a very secret, very classified job–he is one of the “taps” who communicate with the inhabitants of the planet. Specifically, he is the youngest and newest of Marak’s taps. Continue reading