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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

This Alien Shore

Copyright 1998 by C. S. Friedman

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (3/5)

I first read this in October 1999 and most recently on the 5th May 2002

When Earth discovered faster-than-light travel, colonies were established on many planets throughout the galaxy. Only later did the cost of FTL usage become apparent: genetic damage resulting in profound physical and mental mutations. Earth recoiled in horror from these "Variants" it had s spawned, abandoning the fledgling colonies to survive or fail as they might.

Surviving their abandonment by Earth, the inhabitants of the planet Guera established the Outspace Guild. The Guild is dedicated to the cause of reuniting all the lost colonies and indeed Earth, guaranteeing equal access for all. It maintains the way-stations by the entry points into hyperspace. It provides the only pilots who can survive the ravages of FTL travel to deliver spacecraft safely to their destinations.

But now Earth is challenging the Guild's monopoly on space travel.

Jamisia was rescued as a child by the Shido Corporation and brought up in their orbiting habitat. They gave her the best of medical care, nursing her through her traumas. She knows she still has serious mental problems, but Shido has always tried to help, although they seemed unable to help her psychological condition.

But now the Shido habitat has been destroyed by a rival corporation, apparently in search of her. She manages to escape, at least for the moment. Can she remain free long enough to find why they want her so badly?

On Paradise, one of the FTL way-stations, there's a so-far-successful hacker named Phoenix. He's trying to crack a computer virus but now he's getting worried - this virus has already killed several of his friends. Meanwhile, the famed cyberneticist Dr. Kio Masada is also chasing down this virus. He's after it because it threatens the security of the entire Outspace Guild and FTL travel itself.

Half traditional SF and half cyberpunk - I loved it. It's an enjoyable and quite exciting read. It's not exactly deep but it's great fun. The only two problems are that (i) almost everyone is, frankly, a little too nice, and (ii) I saw more of myself in Rio Masada than Phoenix and that's more than a little worrying.

I also enjoyed Freidman's "The Madness Season". Clearly I'm going to have to amazon some more of her books.

Loaded on the 2nd June 2002.
Cover of This Alien Shore
Cover art by Michael Whelan

Reviews of other works by C. S. Friedman:
The Madness Season
Black Sun Rising

Reviews of other works with covers by Michael Whelan:
The Madness Season
Black Sun Rising
Tangled Up In Blue
Beowolf's Children