Saturday, March 01, 2008

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

I'd read about Grimspace on Linnea Sinclair's email listserve that I recieve in digest form every day.
Sinclair and Elaine Corvidae, another author on the list, wholeheartedly endorsed the book, and recommended that we pick up a copy once it comes out in March.
I happened to see a copy at Barnes and Noble last weekend, and, as it was mass market paperback, I grabbed it, and decided to see if one of my favorite SFRomance novelists was right about this book from a new author.
Turns out Linnea's cover blurb, "A tightly-written, edge-of-your-seat read" was right on, and I couldn't put down Grimspace once I got beyond the first few pages.
Though the romance is very secondary to the science fiction in this novel, its still nicely done and there are plenty of moments when the reader isn't sure if the main characters will hook up at all. The prose is fiesty and tough, just like the protagonist, and the plot zooms along at lightspeed. There's action and adventure and plenty of wierd side characters to keep things spicy.
The story runs thus:

Our heroine, Sirantha Jax, is a young woman born with the J-gene, which gives her dark hair, light eyes and the ability to jump/navigate ships through "Grimspace" which is what the characters in this book call the corridors of space that are between regular space and planets. We meet Jax after she's been imprisoned for the crime of blowing up her ship, which contained dignitaries and her lover/pilot, Kai. She is being interrogated by sadistic Corps bullies who want to break her down enough so that she will confess that the accident was all her fault. She can't remember what actually happened, however. Into this ghastly situation strolls March, a man in dire need of a jumper to get him and his rustic crew through Grimspace, as he and his family on a rogue planet want to break the Corps monopoly on interstellar travel. They have a plan to do some selective breeding of their own, but they have to get to some distant planets to get others on board first. Of course, the gray men of the psych corps hunt Jax, and she and March's crew have to scrape through many a rough situation. Jax spends a good amount of time mouthing off and being rather nasty, but she has a right to be a bit rough-edged after what she's been through. I can't say I was happy about all the swear words in the novel, but they did make sense for her character, so I just ignored them and kept on reading.
I'm glad I did, as I loved the ending and the way that Jax stayed true to what she believed in, and that she never became a helpless, hapless woman who requires others to constantly rescue her. The secondary characters were as interesting as the main characters, and the novel had bits of Star Wars, Dune, Babylon 5 and the Matrix in it, as well as a touch of Lois McMaster Bujolds Miles Vorkosigan stories.
I highly recommend this SF/R hybrid to anyone who likes action-oriented SF and women who kick serious rump and aren't afraid to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. Women who know their own minds, and aren't stupid or whiny or gullible.
I sincerely hope to hear more from Ann Aguirre in the future.

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