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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Fool's War

Copyright 1997 by Sarah Zettel

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Superb (4/5)

I first read this in August 1998.

Katmer Al Shei owns the starship Pasadena. Starships are expensive, so she has a business partner with whom she shares the ship, alternating voyages. All being well, they'll finally make enough money for her husband Asil and children to join her. All's not going quite so well though, because her partner is all too willing to skirt the edge of the law to make a little more money. Still Katmer tries hard to slowly upgrade the rating of her craft to attract a higher quality crew and higher-profit cargos.

Mow she's been assigned a ship's Fool, Evelyn Dobbs. A professional Fool is a multi-talented entertainer and functions as an essential pressure valve on long haul flights. She's also got herself a new pilot, highly skilled but perhaps not quite respectable.

The pilot is Jemina Yerusha, a Freer, and the Freers believe that sufficiently AIs are self-conscious, thus they seek to nurture and protect them. This is a dangerous belief in a world were rogue AIs have run wild and caused immense damage.

The Pasadena sets off Port Oberon, a space station near Uranus, for its next journey. The crew are optimistic, each may have their own secrets but they think these won't interfere with this voyage. What they don't know is that their secrets are going to be uncovered, and that their exposure will not only threaten their own lives, but will rock worlds.

This is an exciting, stimulating and imaginative book. Zettel handles her intriguing cast of characters, both human and AI, with style and confidence. She has a knack for including an appropriate level of detail and conversations and procedures she describes are convincing. The more she makes one believe in her future universe, the more exciting the novel becomes, and it is exciting indeed.

I've read the book several times since purchasing it and continue to enjoy it. Classic SF, good straight writing, interesting characters and a nice twist in the plot. Come on, Sarah, write a sequel!

Loaded on the 30th November 2002.
Cover of Fool's War
Cover by Donato and Don Puckey

Reviews of other work by Sarah Zettel
Playing God
Kingdom Of Cages