Posts Tagged Babes with Blasters

Tritcheon Hash – Sue Lange

Stars: Three out of five.

Review format: Brief review plus links.
Summary: This book is super-hard to classify.  It’s funny, crude, feminist, absurd, SF, toys with romance,and detours through adventure. You never know what’s coming next.
Provenance: e-copy suggested for review by author about 12 months ago.

I wish I’d taken some notes while I read this, rather than just the star rating. There were some laugh-out-loud moments, and some snickers. Even a year later I remember enjoying Trish’s running commentary as she waits for a test flight in a very uncomfortable cockpit.


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The Truth of Valor – Tanya Huff

Slogged through the mud to victory.

Stars: Four out of five.

Review format: Review plus links.
Summary: Former Marine Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is attempting to build a new life with salvage operator Craig Ryder on his ship, the Promise. Turns out civilian life is a lot rougher than she’d imagined-salvage operators are losing both cargo and lives to pirates. And when they attack the Promise, Craig is taken prisoner and Torin is left for dead.When Torin finds out why the pirates needed Craig, she calls in the Marines to get him back – and to stop the pirates from changing the balance of power in known space. (from the publisher via bookdaze)
Provenance: Borrowed from the local library.

I had a difficult three-score pages getting started with The Truth of Valor. I climbed out of this ‘mud’ when in chapter three (page 59 my book) Torin and Craig spar (verbally) over whether they should take up a fight against apparent pirates who’ve killed an ex-Marine.

Up till then, though, I was starting to worry whether Torin had jumped the shark at the end of Valor’s Trial. Was the ‘War was a Sham’ finale of the previous book going to leave her purposeless? If so, I didn’t want to see the ugly result.  But… Who knows, maybe this was deliberate meta-suspense on Huff’s part! Mean of her, if so. I was starting to worry maybe this wasn’t going to work out!

In the course of writing this review, I’ve decided that this book actually describes Torin turning an important corner in her life, now that the big war has been revealed to be a fake. She’s going to have a new mission in future books (see my liked list below if you don’t mind spoilers).

Recommended especially to Torin fans. Remember, Torin is like Heris Serrano in her purple uniform!

Linkage, Spoilage, and minor Quibbles below

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Primary Inversion – Catherine Asaro

$AltTextA welcome addition to Babes with Blasters.

Primary Inversion  – Catherine Asaro.

Stars: Three and a half of five.
Summary: Jagernaut fighter pilot Sauscony (Soz) Valdoria is the lead character, in command of a squadron of four Jagernaut pilots: neurologically enhanced empaths who have been bio-engineered as weapons.  Soz is also an Imperial Heir of the Skolian Empire and may someday become its military commander.  Skolian Jagernauts are pitted against the legions of the Trader empire, in particular its Aristo ruling class, a race that derives pleasure from the amplified pain and anguish of empaths, especially Jagernauts. 
The book is divided into three sections.  In the first section, Soz and her squadron are taking shore leave on a planet that has remained neutral in the hostilities between the warring empires. It is there that Soz meets an Aristo named Jaibriol, who it turns out is heir to the Trader empire. Jaibriol is strangely interesting to Soz, despite her prior torture at the hands of an Aristo.  Later, Soz and her Jagernaut squadron launch a desperate mission to save a planet from annihilation by the Trader empire. 
In the second section, Soz is sent for rest and recuperation on a planet, emotionally drained and suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. Her condition continues to deteriorate.  In the third section, Soz is recalled by her brother the Imperator, to join him on the Headquarters planet.  (based on content from wikipedia, but heavily revised for brevity and to omit major spoilers). 
Provenance: FREE download from Baen Online Free Library.

Primary Inversion was Catherine Asaro’s first novel, published in 1995. As such, it is an impressive debut with few significant stumbles and strong signs of promise.  However, I may have been reading a thoroughly revised 2008 edition (according to wikipedia).  Whatever its specific pedigree, it is a good book.

The pace moves things along at a brisk clip, and the key SF elements – FTL inversion drives and Jagernaut enhancements – are worked in as meaningful plot elements by the end of the story.  The main character Sauscony (Soz) is convincingly described and engaging, and secondary characters are reasonably well drawn too. The political backdrop of warring empires – provides depth and a sense of history.

Soz herself was my particular favorite in this book, especially in the second and third sections, when she is struggling with PTSD and then adventuring.  In the first section, the narrative strains under a very heavy load of gadgetry exposition (FTL, Jagernauts, the ethnic roots of the empires), and Soz’s relationship with her fiance is dropped in like a brick.

The three-section structure of the book worked unexpectedly well for me.  Partly, because I was only semi-whelmed by the first section: I was happy to move on to a more character-centered narrative with less exposition.

In general, Primary Inversion really has earned its three and a half stars. It is good, and it’s a promising sign that later novels by Asaro will be (will have been?) very good.  It has many strong points that outweigh its weaknesses.

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Babes with Blasters – genre guide

Front cover

Dont mess with Kylara Vatta

What I mean by Babes with Blasters is:  science fiction with a strong female protagonist, with a military context. The alliteration was too fun to pass up.

  1. Number one in my category – the Vatta’s War series by Elizabeth Moon. Pure fun!  Military science fiction, and excellent covers in the copies I’ve seen.
  2. Hammered, Scardown, Worldwired – Elizabeth Bear. I think the middle book is the best of the series. Here we notice the bizarre trend in this genre to crop the heads off female cover models who wear tight space-suits.
  3. Babe number three is Tanya Huff’s Sergeant Torin Kerr, in the Valor series.  The first books are: Valor’s Trial, Valor’s Choice, The Better  Part of Valor Torin wears a reasonable space-suit on that cover.
  4. Sauscony Valdoria kicks butt as a Jagernaut and heir to the Skolian Imperial throne – Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro launched her many-book sago on that universe.
  5. Women of War is actually the anthology that inspired me to collect this list. Some of the shorts in this anthology are AMAZING. Some, well, not so much. I was hoping it would lead to more authors for this list, but many of the writers were very new.
  6. C.J. Cherryh’s Jago, e.g. in Destroyer. The Foreigner Universe by C.J. Cherryh features a strong female alien character – Jago – a member of the assassins’ guild. Read the rest of this entry »

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