Friday, March 02, 2007

Is that a datalyzer in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Devonfriend looooves Games of Command!

I usually don't read much Science fiction. I've mentioned it before too. I get sick of the silly fake curse words and words for fizznucking and boy and girl parts, and the stuff about the spaceships makes me dot out. But there's one theme in Science Fiction that always intrigues me, the one of man vs. machine, and where do you draw the line between the two. Think A.I., think Blade Runner, think Battlestar Galactica, hell, even Electric Dreams. The idea of artificial intelligence taking on a life of its own, having emotions, or even a soul, is endlessly fascinating. So I've been waiting for Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair since I was looking for a cyborg romance way back in October, and Bev suggested it. And it didn't disappoint. I devoured this book like it was an order of Chili's Southwestern Eggrolls followed by a piece of Coffee-Heath Bar cheesecake. It may have even snapped me out of my reading funk. I could barely remember what it felt like to be desperate to get back to a book.

I'm not going to attempt much of a synopsis. See Janine's review at Dear Author for more about the plot (and you'll see I agree with her about the book, pretty much). I'm just gonna talk about the main players a bit. First we have Captain Tasha Sebastian, pilot extraordinaire. Sebastian's kind of a rebel, a maverick, if you will, and she's got a secret past that could get her into lot of trouble with her current boss, Admiral Branden Kel-Paten. Her best friend is Dr. Eden Fynn, an empath who is the Chief Medical Officer on the Vaxxar. The two became part of the Vaxxar's crew as part of the Alliance Personnel Integration Program, an effort to unite two formerly warring factions: the United Coalition (which Tasha and Eden had been part of) and the Triad. Thus, Tasha finds herself working very closely with Admiral Kel-Paten, with whom she had had many tense encounters in the past. Kel-Paten, also known as the 'Tin Soldier', is a "biocybe", that is, he has been enhanced with all manner of metals, synthetic materials and implants to make him into a virtual war machine. He can plug into any system, instantly downloading and synthesizing information and actually becomes part of the ship's systems. He is brilliant, but also rigid, linear, and emotionless, which causes him to butt heads with the more unorthodox Tasha on occasion. He practically shadows Tasha, because he doesn't trust her, she suspects. At the beginning of the book, they are trying to survive a developing vortex (and, yes, my eyes were glazing over a bit at this point), and they do, and they come upon a ship containing one Jace Serafino, a freakin' space pirate and telepath. He and Kel-Paten hate each other a lot. Add to the mix a couple of telepathic feline creatures (Furzels) named Tank and Reilly, and a variety of internal and external threats, and what do you have?

[Click on post title for full post]

A recipe for fun, that's what! No joke, I really enjoyed this book. There is a lot going on here and Sinclair juggles the large cast and twisty plot very well. At first I was pretty nervous, with all the barked orders, and discussion of Graslan scales and McAbian readings and whatnot, but then I got sucked into Sinclair's universe, as I might with a paranormal, and I'm pretty sure I was on top of the political stuff, and the terminology. The overall plot kept my interest very well, and I didn't even mind the furzels. I'm not a fan of animal characters (remember I'm a children's librarian, I get inundated with animal heroes), but they were integrated well and used just enough. I didn't even mind their cutesy speak (see the top of the post), because they were not just there to be cute, they were important to the action.

If I liked the overall plot, then I loved the romance and the characters. Especially the Tin Soldier. You see, Branden Kel-Paten doesn't stick to Tasha like glue because he doesn't trust her, but because he's been madly in love with her for years, since they first met. He orchestrated her transfer to the Vaxxar so he could be near her. He's not actually supposed to feel emotions, and the fact that he does could be cause for dismantling him. He is constantly trying to get her to see him as a man rather than a biocybe, but he finds it extremely difficult to banter or flirt and it doesn't help the situation that he has to spike into the ship in front of her. It's like he gets so close to making a connection with Tasha, then can't quite follow through. His struggle to connect with Tasha, and his despair that she would not want to be near him were very memorable. So lovely, though I'm sad he had a space mullet on the cover. At first, I wasn't sure if I would like Tasha. She seemed like the sassy type that I don't really like. [And unfortunately, her real name is Sass, which...long story, but I have bad associations with that word and name.] But she grew on me, and really endeared herself to me with the vulnerability she showed as the book went on, worrying about whether Branden could love her after he found out her secret.

I was not as interested in the romance between Eden Fynn and Jace Serafino. It was more of the instant soulmate type thing. I was anxious to get back to Branden during their bits. But again, they were integral to the overall picture. There was a lot of interesting stuff about who could trust who, and who could trust themselves, for that matter...were memories and emotions reliable or manufactured? I give this one an A-. If you like sci-fi/futuristics, unusual heroes or just anything off the beaten path, give it a go. It has a fast moving plot, a well-relized world, great characters, and compelling romance. It's supposed to be a stand-alone, but I, for one, hope Ms. Sinclair revisits this world.


Bev (BB) said...

Wasn't it worth the wait? :D

Devon said...

So worth the wait, Bev. I was actually having pangs about starting something else, because I wasn't sure if I was ready to put the world of this book behind me. And that happens pretty rarely.