Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Grimspace - a review

Ann Aguirre
320 pages
Ace



I've been looking for a series--be it books or TV or comics--to fill  the void Farscape left in my head a long time ago. Something chaotic and alien but at the same time familiar. Something that's the right blend of military science fiction, space opera, romance, and is mostly action oriented. I also wanted cool characters who are given snappy lines of dialogue to spout off at the right moments. And at least one space lizard.*

I got everything I wanted in Grimspace. Space lizards? Check. A female version of Malcolm Reynolds?** Check. Flesh-eating aliens? Check. Neat space jumping sequences in which the main protagonist moves herself and a ship through space? Check. Action? Check. Check. Check. Check.

Sirantha Jax is a jumper. She can move herself and a ship through space. The problem is that once a jumper jumps so much they tend to burnout (this means death). Sirantha is in her thirties and should have died by now, but she hasn't. That leads the Corp (queue the ominous cello because they're the bad guys) to lock her in prison so she can be studied. She's then rescued by March (queue the heroic music) who wants to use her for nefarious--but ultimately good--purposes.

Sirantha travels across the universe in a true Farscape fashion: she lands on alien planets, gets in fights, has a smart mouth, and is attracted to the ship's captain March (here's that romance element I wanted). Most of the short chapters (each only lasting a few pages) end with a punch or a kick or a revelation of some kind. None of it feels forced though, and the short chapters allow for quick reading in what is mostly an action oriented book.

Will Grimspace ever win a Hugo Award? Or a Nebula? No. But it's pulpy, it's science fiction, and the main character kicks ass. Sometimes all I want is a laser battle and a space lizard. Sometimes I want a hero who doesn't give a fuck and just shoots the flesh-eating aliens without questioning the morality of it first.

(I think we really lost the "shoots first hero" when Lucas went back and made Han shoot second--but that's another argument for another day).

Ann Aguirre delivered me a nice series to start. It might head into familiar territory with space corporations and space battles; but I am beyond the point of caring. I got a book--set in space--that really entertained me. Ann, I salute you. You brought out my fanboy side again.

Full Disclosure: I bought this on Amazon for my Kindle.
*You gotta have space lizards in a science fiction book. I just can't take it seriously if you don't.
**I can't go into how Firefly the crew is. But there is a mechanic. And a doctor who kind of doubles as a shepherd. 

22 comments:

  1. I cannot help it: I get squeally and do the flail-thing over my boyfriend Captain Mal.

    I like that cover. But I LOVE the Firefly reference.

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    1. The cover art on this one is what drew me in. All of the Sirantha Jax covers are really neat looking to me for some odd reason. Maybe it's because I can see her entire face?

      I compare everything to science fiction in my head. Firefly is no exception.

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  2. Gah! Lucas changed it to Greedo shooting first in his sucky revision. Correct your typo please, Mr. Schweiss.

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    1. Okay okay. Done. I'm turning you into this blog's official fact checker. The job is yours, if you want it.

      Delete
    2. Yes, better to give in, since you can't stop me even if you try.

      Delete
    3. I now declare you the Official Fact Checker of Hitting On Girls in Bookstores. You get no benefits. No pay. And no authority.

      You have your work cutout for you.

      Delete
  3. I've been meaning to check out this series. And you made it sound pretty awesome (don't even bother denying that).

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    1. It was soooo good. If you're a fan of silly action oriented science fiction then this is for you. I won't lie that I took Amazon up on it's four for three offer (I bought the entire series after reading the first book).

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    2. I'm flattered by the Firefly comparison, though to be honest, I've never seen the whole season. I've watched ... two episdoes, I think. I saw the one where Kaylee gets a pretty dress and the one where Jayne is stoned and shoots a dude in the leg and when Mal says, "Nice shot," he answers, "I was aiming for his head." It's a testament to the great writing that I remember, so many years later!

      Thanks for the lovely review.

      --AA

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    3. Thank you for the book! I loved everything about it. The cover artwork is brilliant, Sirantha Jax is a kickass character, and you perfectly balanced action and plot.

      Also, you write flesh eating aliens really well.


      And to everyone else: yes, I am gushing like a fanboy right now. Seriously. There could be tears.

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  4. I admit that I'm not much of a sci fi reader but I do pick up certain novels that come highly recommended - Grimspace is one of those. I enjoyed reading this one but wasn't compelled to continue with the rest of the series. Come to think of it, I felt the same way about Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and Lois McMaster Bujold's Young Miles.

    PS: I really need to watch Firefly.

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    1. LOIS MCMASTER BUJOLD. You get points just for bringing her up. I read Young Miles and liked it. Of course, I did the whole series out of order because I just started reading the last book before I realized it wasn't the next in the series.

      I plan to read the rest of them. So I guess you'll find out if they're worth reading. :)

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    2. LOL I plan on reading the rest of the books in the Vorkosigan Saga as well although I have no idea when I'll get around to them. I'll probably read the ones about Cordelia next because I'm curious about Miles' parents. What about Ender's Game, wonder if you've read that?

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  5. I am currently reading #4 of this series (Killbox) and I can tell you that it gets even better! More flesh-eating aliens, PLUS the introduction of a snarky girl AI, PLUS an insectoid planet. Let the fanboy/girl times roll!

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    1. I can't wait to get that far. Man, I really want to start into these things this weekend.

      Fanboy/girls unite!

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  6. GRIMSPACE is a fantastic entry into the science fiction genre. Ann Aguirre captures the nobleness of sacrifice beautifully. GRIMSPACE is highly recommended, even for those who aren't as thrilled by the science fiction genre as Ann Aguirre writes a story in which the emotional impact transcends the genre.

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