This is hard sci fi, and I totally loved it. It stars a kickass ‘enhanced’ chick named Hannah Reinier. Get it? That’s a palindrome. Her official category number is Palindrome 656. The first number is her batch code, and the next two are a counter. She is number 56 of batch 6.
The book starts off in 2549, with a ghost ship — that would be space ship, folks, not an ocean-going vessel – arriving at the Cern Space Station after a ten-year voyage to Europa, one of Juniper’s moons. When the authorities board her, after receiving no answer to their transmissions, they find only one person out of a crew of 16. That’s not a good sign. Kind of like when you have an aquarium of guppies and then eventually all you have is an aquarium of one really fat guppie.
We learn the story in bits and pieces from our narrator, how twenty years before this expedition, (so that would make it thirty years ago) another ship went to Europa to mine a kind of algae which grew under the ice. That ship never returned, and this expedition went out to investigate what happened and to bring home some samples of the algae.
At this date in history, the world is divided into four parts: the two big powers – the Union, which was the Americas, the Empire, which was Europe and the former Asian countries, Oz, which was the former Australia and New Zealand, and Abysinia, which was the African continent. The two biggest players, the Union and the Empire, were making a joint venture of this investigatory flight to Jupiter.
Hannah is a pilot and an assassin. And in spite of it all, we root for her all the way, because we love seeing a Chick who is Large and In Charge. It is a wonderful tale, told in a manner to keep you turning pages and hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. Hannah has a lot of personal rules, the first and foremost of which is “Don’t touch me.” There is “Nothing is as good up close as it is far away,” “If you’re ranking things, all that matters is time”, and “Death is always ugly”, and my fav, “No matter how many you take, you will need the one you left behind.” She is a nicotine addict, and will do an awful lot of ugly stuff for a cigarette, because as she says, “Nicotine is a strong second to hate as a motivator.”
OK, the edition I read could have used another proofreading run-through. I think this is self-published or indie — VERY indie published. Things like “line up in cues to…” and “this is you ‘re answer” and “if you hadn’t noticed your sitting on an Empire ship” tend to grate after a while. The indication of a good story is if you can more or less ignore the boo-boos and carry on reading. I’ve abandoned books with a ho-hum story line and which had a lot of typos, because I just couldn’t stand it.
And here is a later cover. Only slightly better. Why do artists depicting female persons draw them with hardly any clothes? Nowhere in this book does she describe herself wearing a mini top, shorts and hooker hose. And is that a garter belt on her leg? Oh, please. And why do they depict them standing with their shoulders back farther than their butts? Oh, wait, I know. It’s the …… OK, Male artists. Never mind.
Great book. Lousy cover(s). I am looking for more by this author.