RogerBW's Blog

Shooting the Rift, Alex Stewart 24 March 2021

2016 SF. Simon Forrester is rather forgotten beside his mother the warship captain and his sister the space marine, even if he is unreasonably good with computers. So he sets off to make his own way…

This is pastiche. It's RCN and more to the point Vatta's War with the serial numbers filed off (though easily recovered via the most elementary forensic techniques). Alex is very good at pastiche, and he's clearly read the right sources, so when he mashes it around and puts it back out in a slightly different shape what you get is still something that's enjoyable. It's more of the same. It's familiar. It's largely lacking in anything like originality, but if you don't go in expecting that, it's fine.

So we've got the sexist society but it's gender-swapped, where men are expected to learn estate management and attract a good wife while women are politicians and soldiers and regard unmarried men as fair prey. Which, yeah, fine, but it's all done in the easiest way possible. Stewart doesn't want to write a story about a matriarchy, and it's largely forgotten as soon as the story moves away from Simon's homeworld, so just take standard 1950s stereotyped sexist behaviour and invert it, job done.

Simon apparently suffers from Compulsive Behaviour (hacking), but eventually manages to improve his control roll, presumably by spending the experience points he gets from his first run aboard a space freighter. (I'm being unfair; I don't suppose Alex plays GURPS.) And some people like him and some people don't and he has a spying job to do and things go wrong and some unfriendly people turn out to be good really… tick tock tick tock no surprises.

Sometimes no surprises is what I'm in the mood for. Sometimes it isn't. This can hugely affect how much I enjoy a particular book.

This is clearly set up to be the first of a series but no sequel has been announced.

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