RogerBW's Blog

Happy Snak, Nicole Kimberling 17 April 2018

2009 science fiction. Gaia Jones just wants to run her snack stand, on the strange alien-human space station orbiting Mars. But one of the aliens dies in her shop, and things start to get extremely complicated.

She's forced to be the guardian of that dead alien's ghost, and keeper of its shrine. OK, she thinks, weird alien religion. But just what "ghost" means isn't at all clear, and most of what humanity knows about the aliens is guesswork at best (though they'd really like the shiny alien tech).

There's something of a mystery, but not a hugely complex one. Mostly the story here is of Gaia learning about the aliens, and working out what's true, what's just being said for their convenience, and what's simply beyond her comprehension.

Scientist: What do your people's gravitational generators look like?

Wave: Oh, beautiful. You would kiss one if you were allowed.

Scientist: Do they somehow house a singularity?

Wave: No, there are lots of them.

Scientist: But how do they work?

Wave: They are far too important to work!

Scientist: What are they made of?

Wave: The same as everything else, only more holy.

This isn't a story about rabble-rousing and revolutions, but it does have a heroine who saves the day – even if she does that more by being in the right place and provoking reactions than by working out just what's going on and how it should be dealt with. There's light humour, fast pacing, and overall this is a pretty fluffy book, though one with a surprisingly deep centre and properly alien aliens.

If anything it's too short; I'd have liked to get more inside Gaia's head.

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