RogerBW's Blog

Only Bad Options, Jennifer Estep 09 November 2022

2022 romantic SF, first of a planned trilogy. Vesper Quill is a designer working on various high-tech products for the penny-pinching Kent Corporation. Kyrion Caldaren is the Emperor's right hand, head of his elite forces. There's no reason they would ever even meet

This is very light SF, highly reminiscent of Jessie Mihalik's Consortium Rebellion series – for example, each world plays host to one city, or one battlefield, and if you want to go to a different place you get on a ship and go to a different world. Also there are psionic powers that might as well be magic (and in fact most people treat them as such, something they don't really understand). However, the plan here is for the single story to take up the whole trilogy, rather than each one being about a separate pairing, so with more room to develop things start quite slowly: Vesper tries to get the word out about the cover-up job being done on a flawed spacecraft design, only to learn that it was done deliberately. Then she's thrown into the Imperial army, without training, in the hope that along with almost every other conscript she'll die in her first battle to help show the real soldiers where the enemy is. Then it all gets complicated.

This is a fairly crapsack setting, with a corporate-aristocratic hierarchy backed by magical talent, all of whom are happy to screw over everyone below them… and those are the relatively good guys, at least as far as the people living there are concerned. Both principals have significantly traumatic pasts, and secrets they have to keep from everyone. And then it turns out they have an empathic bond, which makes them everybody's target.

All right, so Vesper has cinematic gadgeteering powers, as well as Seer abilities that guide her to where the plot is going to happen, while Kyrion is a combat monster. But what I like about this book is that in spite of their superpowers they face real challenges, and not everything can be solved by either hitting it or cobbling up a piece of tech. Their enemies are at least as powerful as they are, and less restrained in how they use those powers. And in one action sequence Vesper thinks her way out of it not by spontaneously manifesting a new ability but by getting clever about using the abilities she already has.

All right, it's a slow start with a lot of setup and a fair bit of infodumping as Vesper thinks about things that she already knows. But Estep's writing style is growing on me, and there's a sense of fun about the whole business (even in moments of despair for the characters) which alone would bring me back.

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

See also:
Polaris Rising, Jessie Mihalik

Add A Comment

Your Name
Your Email
Your Comment

Your submission will be ignored if any field is left blank, but your email address will not be displayed. Comments will be processed through markdown.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1