RogerBW's Blog

Hellflower, Eluki bes Shahar 24 September 2020

1991 SF, first of a trilogy. Saint Butterflies-are-free Peace Sincere was happy as a smuggler pilot, but she had to go and save an inexperienced mercenary from the local lowlife, and then things just got complicated.

"I understand you are a pilot-of-starships?"

We established that I was a pilot-of-starships, that I owned and could fly a ground-to-ground-rated freighter-licensed ship, and that my tickets were in order-Directorate clearances, Outfar clearances, inspection certs, et cetera, and tedious so forth. Forged, of course, but the information was correct-I'd have to be a fool to claim to be able to pilot something I couldn't.

We also established that Gibberfur here was the Chief Dispatcher for the Outlands Freight Company, a reputable and highly-respected organization that chose to do its business in sleazy arcades. I ordered another round of tea and waited.

All right, part of the complication is that she has some dodgy tech hidden on board, Paladin, or Library Main Bank Seven of the Federation University Library at Sikander Prime. There hasn't been a Federation, for thousands of years, and the Libraries may be part of the reason why, though nobody really knows; by now, any sort of artificial intelligence is vanishingly rare and utterly illegal.

And of course it has its own agenda.

I quickly abandoned the question of relative value when Butterfly introduced the concept of "fun" into the discussion.

I have learned that "fun" means exposing yourself to extreme risk without compensation, so I attempted to explain to Butterfly that if she were dead she would not know how much "fun" she was having.

This did not work.

Multiple plots from multiple players mesh by accident, sometimes reinforcing each other, sometimes interfering. Even when Butterfly is coerced into doing something, it's not at all clear whether the person coercing her really wants it done, or just wants her to be in a particular place and act the way she normally does, or indeed wants her to fail spectacularly. Nobody's going to look out for this spiky found-family except itself, and not even that sometimes.

The book is written in Butterfly's heavy dialect much of the time, and sometimes contextual clues are thin, but I didn't find it hard going; in fact I very much enjoyed it. The book does end quite suddenly, and I'm glad I have the sequel available.

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Series: Bufferfly & Hellflower | Next in series: Darktraders

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