Saturday, 9 July 2016

Posting suspended

After nine years and just short of 500 posts, I have decided to suspend posting on this blog.

There are two reasons for this, which reinforce each other. One is that I have some non-SFF writing projects I am determined to complete but am making very little progress with due to lack of time (and I'm not getting any younger). The other is that I have gradually found writing reviews becoming a chore that I have to slog through rather than a pleasure.

I will leave this blog site in existence because the many book, film and TV reviews it contains may remain of interest. Who knows, I may even revive it at some point if my priorities change.

In the meantime, thank you to my readers, especially those who have stuck with me for many years. Keep reading SFF - I certainly will!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Fortune's Pawn, by Rachel Bach

Fortune's Pawn is the first of the Paradox trilogy, the others being Honour's Knight and Heaven's Queen. They form one continuous story, following the adventures of Deviana Morris, an armoured mercenary living on another planet – Paradox, long before settled by Earth – in the far future. She is very ambitious and committed, determined to be selected for the Devastators, the armoured royal guard of the Sainted King of Paradox. Powered and armoured suits feature a lot in this story and Devi's is a top-grade model, packed with sensors, able to protect her against almost anything and giving her enormous strength, speed and endurance. Even though she is still in her twenties, Devi has already had an impressive career but needs more experience to qualify, so she signs up with Brian Caldswell, a commercial trader and owner of the ship the Glorious Fool, who has a reputation for getting into all kinds of trouble and losing a lot of his crew.

And what a strange crew they are. Caldswell himself seems normal enough, but his navigator is an alien from an avian species, his doctor is a different, reptilian, kind of alien of a species that likes to eat humans, the cook (who rapidly becomes Devi's love interest) is a handsome hunk who is suspiciously good at combat, Devi's cabin mate is a dreamy young psychic girl, and the captain's young daughter seems to be so autistic she is almost catatonic.

The ship and her crew are soon involved in a whole sequence of mysterious adventures and it becomes clear that they are not conventional traders at all. Devi has to earn all of her combat pay in a series of brutal fights while trying to control her forbidden passion for the cook. The book ends on a major "reset" with the mysteries unexplained.

I read this in two sessions and quite enjoyed it, but I found it a bit lightweight and superficial and became rather tired of the overblown romance element. Overall, the book struck me as being targeted at female Young Adult readers and I was not intending to read the sequels. However, in searching to see what the other two novels were about I came across this review of the trilogy: which exactly reflects my feelings about the first book but goes on to say that the next two are much better. So I think I might persevere after all.