RogerBW's Blog

Grimspace, Ann Aguirre 12 January 2015

2008 SF/romance. Sirantha Jax is a jumper, one of the rare humans who can navigate FTL ships through grimspace. But her ship crashed, her pilot/lover died (along with everyone else on board), and she may be going mad.

But then someone turns up to break her out of corporate psychotherapy (which seems to be driving her more mad), and things start to get just a bit strange.

This is a romantic romp against a science-fictional backdrop rather than a serious exercise in world-building; for example, it's strongly implied that only jumpers can take a ship FTL, but inter-world trips without jumpers routinely take only days or months rather than centuries. Oh really?

I suspect one's enjoyment of the book is dependent on whether one can enjoy the characters, since everything else is very much backdrop to their story. Jax herself tries to be a bit less passive than many heroines, and has already had a successful career and relationships before the book begins, but is entirely too ready to regard everything as her own fault even when it blatantly isn't. (And the book's in her voice, first-person present tense narration, so if you can't at least like her a bit you won't be able to get away from her.) March, the obvious True Love, is either a dark brooding hero with a troubled past or a big emotionally-stunted idiot; granted, I find characters who are perfect in every way simply boring, so I'm perhaps a little more willing than some to veer the other way.

There's an interesting modification of the romance trope of two people who are forced by circumstance to sleep together when they haven't decided yet that they like each other; here the relationship between pilot and jumper is an intrinsically intimate one, and they have to do that together when etc. (And it turns out that March is a telepath. Of course he is.)

There are space pirates and space battles, dubious human experimentation, fights and makings up, bounty hunters, a hooker with a heart of gold, emotional whiplash, and childcare. And a spaceship is lost as a result of unpardonably sloppy watchstanding, really not the sort of thing one would have expected from the people involved. For that matter, if your planet is home to vicious predators who are attracted by blood, it would probably be sensible to tell this to the visitor before the fight starts, rather than blaming her for what inevitably happens next.

The big plot that's eventually revealed is also pretty sloppy: once we learn what the evil corporation's actual goals are, it becomes obvious that killing Jax at the time of the accident, or letting her "die of her wounds" once she'd been rescued, would really have made much more sense than trying to drive her mad.

This is the first book of six, but it does stand on its own quite effectively. Like the Rachel Bach series, it's an unabashed wallow rather than anything that tries to deal with serious issues or make the world a better place, but sometimes that's what one's in the mood for.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

See also:
Fortune's Pawn, Rachel Bach
Wanderlust, Ann Aguirre

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