Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Review of Mary Sisson’s Trust

Mary Sisson
Various ebook formats:  $2.99
Amazon, B&N, Smashwords

I reviewed the first book in this series, Trang, not too long ago. It was the author’s first novel, and I found it to be enjoyable.  Now, Sisson’s sophomore effort is available.  It’s more enjoyable than the first, which is as it should be.  Authors, especially those early in their careers should be learning and improving with each new work.

There are some mild spoilers for Trang in what follows.  No way to avoid them, really, if I want to talk about this novel, since picks up shortly after the previous one ended.  

During the huge battle  at the end of Trang, the Cyclopes narrowly missed being destroyed by the super powered alien known as the Magic Man as punishment of their attempted invasion of the Host home planet.  If not for the intervention of Phillipe Trang, they would have been wiped out.  Now Trang learns that no good deed goes unpunished. 

When the book opens, the Cyclopes still on the station are starving.  No one on their home planet has sent any food.  That’s because no one is running the government.  They’re all too afraid of offending the Magic Man after he killed most of the previous government, so no one wants to step up and take responsibility for anything.  When Trang tries to find a solution to the problem, the Magic Man appoints him as interim head of the government.  Which is a rather awkward position for a diplomat from Earth to find himself in.

Oh, did I mention that advancement in the Cyclopes government is by assassination?

The cast of characters is still there, with some new ones added, both human and alien.  This is where Sisson’s greatest strength lies, creating believable characters.  They’re interesting, unique, and while you wouldn’t want to bring some of them home to dinner, they are always up to something.  This includes the humans and the aliens.

The focus on the aliens in this novel is the Cyclopes.  I’m not too sure how stable a government based on assassination would be, but it’s fun to read about.  And yes, there are assassinations and assassination attempts.  The most intriguing parts of the book are when we get to see things from the point of view of the Cyclopes.  There are two more volumes planned in this series, and I hope we get a closer look at some of the other alien societies.

Which is not to say that all of the focus is on the Cyclopes.  There’s an ongoing game of laser tag involving several of the alien species on the station which will have major repercussions.  Along with that, there are some shenanigans going on in Earth politics as well involving Union Intelligence taking a more than healthy interest in Trang..

I found this second novel to jump into the action more quickly than the first one, to be more complex, and to flow more smoothly than its predecessor.  If Sisson continues to improve, and there’s no reason to think she won’t, this will definitely be a series to keep up with.  I just wish the next volume would be ready before the release date of 2014.

If you’ve not read Trang, it’s currently available for free through Smashwords through July 1.  There’s a coupon code on the author’s website, along with links to all editions of both books.

Clarkesworld Issue 69 is Now Available

Clarkesworld Issue 69
free online or available by subscription in various ebook formats

Clarkesworld has gotten some high profile attention in the last few years, having won the Hugo for Best Semiprozine in 2010 and 2011.  I’ve had subscription for the past six months or so.  Time constraints have kept me from finishing all of the issues, but based on everything I’ve read so far, it’s been a good investment. 

This magazine provides a good balance of fiction and nonfiction, and the new issue is no exception.  Here’s a closer look at the contents:

Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard is set on a space habitat in which the inhabitants are long lived.  Tourism is a large part of the economy.  The culture on the station is so different from that of Galactic society that people wear immersers, which help them navigate the customs of the other culture.  This is basically the story of two women, one trapped in her immerser and the other longing to escape hers.

An Owomoyela’s “If the Mountain Comes” was my favorite story in the issue.  It’s the tale of a young woman whose father is wealthy due to the fact that he controls the only water supply for miles.  And he’s ruthless about keeping that control, and by extension, control of his neighbors.  Then one day a man shows up from outside who promises to make the local river, currently dry, flow again. 

Last, but certainly not least, is “You Were She Who Abode” by E. Catherine Tobler is the most complex story in the issue, requiring the reader’s full attention.  It’s also the most technically accomplished.  It concerns a woman who is a veteran of a horrible war in which children were combatants.  Due to her injuries, she’s had an implant to help her maintain her memory.  Only the implant isn’t working correctly.

In the nonfiction, we have an essay by Stephen Gaskell, “Energizing Futures:  How SF Fuels Itself“, discussing the various methods of energy production throughout the history of science fiction.  I last reviewed Stephen’s work here.  The interview (“Neither the Billionaire nor the Tramp: Economics in Speculative Fiction) is a round-robin discussion of economics featuring Elizabeth Bear, N. K. Jemisin, Dani Kollin, Brian Francis Slattery, Charlie Stross, and John C. Wright conducted by Jeremy L. C Jones.  There’s lots of good advice for writers in this one.  Daniel Abraham discusses “Assimilation, Multiculturalism, and Me“.  Finally, editor Neil Clarke turns statistical in “Clarkesworld by the Numbers“.

All in all, I thought this was a strong issue.  The fiction was professional quality and just as good as anything in the main publications such as Asimov’s, Analog, or F&SF.  The nonfiction was interesting and thought provoking.  It’s easy to see why Clarkesworld has won the Hugo in its category for the last two years.