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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Copyright 2005 by Elizabeth Bear

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

I first read this on the 1st April 2007.

Jenny Casey, aging ex-soldier, heroine of "Hammered", has been renewed in body and restored to health. Now drafted back into the Canadian armed forces she is training to be a starship pilot.

Piloting a FTL starship is very difficult job. As soon as a starship breaks the light speed barrier it races for the nearest massive body, such as a planet. The pilots simply aren't swift enough to stop that crash and so far no pilot has survived.

Jenny's reflexes are very fast, and enhanced by drugs and new augmentation, may make her just fast enough.

If Jenny can master the craft, humanity learns how to travel to interstellar space. If she cannot, she and the crew die, impacting on the nearest planet at FTL speeds. But more important to Jenny than her personal survival is that her lover's daughter, Leah, is also in pilot training. To protect Leah, Jenny must learn how to make the job safe before Leah attempts to pilot a starship.

But there is one more reason and this one may be even more important: still far away, but on their way, are the aliens.

This novel isn't as good as the fab "Hammered", but it is worth a read. It's no longer cyberpunk, the style has moved to more conventional SF and the emotional texture is softer. In "Hammered" we had urban ronin loaded with augmentation and super weaponry blowing each other away beneath the city streets. In this novel, our protagonists are trying to make a family and struggling to protect their children. The evil Colonel Valens - let's call him Fred - has a daughter and he's all worried and concerned about her. Even Razorface, once hard and dangerous, seems oddly emasculated, hanging around with a couple of naive, would-be assassins instead of biting off people's fingers.

But still, it's got an FTL spaceship and aliens and Razorface, so it's not all bad.

Loaded on the 6th July 2009.
Cover of Scardown
Cover art by Paul Youll

Reviews of other works by Elizabeth Bear:

Reviews of other works with covers by Paul Youll:
Berserker's Star
The Braided World