Read Recently — February 2010– Scifi

Doubleblind by Ann Aguirre

Sequel to Grimspace and Wanderlust. Sirantha Jax and her motley crew of motley misfits have finally arrived at the planet of Ithiss-Tor, where Jax is to play ambassador to the Ithtorians, a notoriously powerful insectoid species. The Ithtorians don’t like humans, but Jax has one of their own as a friend and the Conglomerate needs them as allies, to oppose a race that hates humanity even more. Well, hate isn’t the right word; it could be said that they love us, albeit with the right sauce. Mind you, as ambassadors go, Jax is one hell of a Jumper. Also, her lover has his killswitch engaged and can’t figure out how to turn it off, and someone in her crew may be a traitor.

Sadly, this series is falling down for me. I can’t bring myself to care about Jax’s mission, or about Jax herself, or her psychotic boyfriend, or her psychotic friends, or the psychotic aliens she has to deal with, or the psychotic society they all come from. This may be me, though, rather than the book. In any event, there is one cute bit, involving the Mob trying to move into government by running ads to convince people to vote them in.

Cautiously not recommended.

The Voyage of the Sable Keech by Neal Asher

Sequel to The Skinner . As you may remember from that book, Sable Keech was the technozombie undead/resurrected cop (a reification, created by the Cult of Anubis Risen)who wasn’t going to let a small thing like negative blood pressure stop him from pursuing some of the most evil criminals in the universe to the backwater Hellworld known as Spatterjay. And there he underwent an experience that, without spoiling everything, would be considered life-changing in someone who wasn’t already dead. Now, many other reifs are trying to follow in his footsteps, as it were, and one, Taylor Bloc, has seen an opportunity. He has created a massive sailing ship (high-tech is somewhat restricted on Spatterjay; all ships must be sailing ships and they must pay their sails well–no, really. It makes sense in the book), the titular Sable Keech, and is planning a great pilgrimage for the Reifs. Of course, there are obstacles in his path, not least of which is trying to gather as many of the people who travelled with Keech on his original journey as he can–which, by sheer good luck, turns out to be a large number of them, though Keech himself remains offworld, pursuing his career.

In the B plot, Sniper, the former combat drone who has been out of action these last ten years (since the last book, basically) receives his new battle shell. Not a moment too soon, either, as deep beneath the sea an old foe, long thought destroyed, is stirring . . .

There is a subplot involving a vengeful whelk that kinda bugged me for a couple of reasons, which I don’t want to go into here because it would be spoilerous. That minor problem aside, this is every bit as good a story as the first, and gets highly recommended.

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