Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

October 17, 2015

Half-baked Review – Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Filed under: books of 2015,books read,reviewage,women writers challenge 2015 — lexifab @ 10:58 pm

Oh this book. THIS BOOK!

Musketeer
Tansy Rayner Roberts’ genderflipped retelling of The Three Musketeers, as space opera.

This book has flat-out my favourite D’Artagnan of all time (the character who hitherto has made every version of T3M drag for me, including the original book): Dana D’Artagnan is the sexy-smart wannabe Musketeer with high expectations, dubious impulse control issues and a habit of crashing through the plot like a meteor strike. I love her to bits. The actual Musketeers are fun as well.

This book is just fucking great, y’all. It’s funny, it’s smart, the action is fun, the sex is sexy, the characters are one delight after another, and the cake jokes are ridiculous and excessive i.e. perfect. And the plot makes sense all the way through (which I’ve never quite been sure is true of the source material).

I got to read it as an ebook because I was a Patreon backer, but you can check it out over at Tansy Rayner Roberts’ site. I gather she’s shopping it around to publishers. She should – a book this much fun deserves to be in print.

(It may seem to certain readers that this is less a review than a gushing outpouring of glee. Yes.)

May 2, 2015

Review – Seeing Red (Ambassador #1) by Patty Jansen

I haven’t actually formally signed up for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015, but I am still trying to include as many Australian writers in my reading diet as possible. To that end I’m going to try to review at least one Australian writer (or editor/anthologist) a month in 2015 (yes, yes, I’m behind on that), keeping an eye on the gender balance as I go. To start with, here’s what I thought about the first volume of Patty Jansen’s Ambassador series of SF diplomacy.

***

Seeing Red is the first volume of Patty Jansen’s Ambassador series, featuring Cory Wilson, Earth’s brash neophyte representative to an alien coalition called the gamra. About equal parts science fiction mystery and conspiracy thriller, with romance and social commentary subplots thrown in for good measure, Seeing Red is a delicious meal.

On the eve of his appointment as the ambassador of Nations of Earth to the alien gamra, an explosive assassination attempt propels Cory Wilson from Earth to the alien city of Barresh where he must prevent an interstellar war, solve a murder and figure out which of several alien factions is behind it all. Wilson is behind the eight-ball almost the whole time: separated from his alien partner and his fiance, his resources cut off by a suspicious Earth, and caught between the interests of bickering alien governments.

Wilson’s a fun character – overconfident and arrogant, but resourceful and more dedicated to his job than anyone around seems to give him credit for. But the real entertainment value of Seeing Red comes from his navigation of the complicated politics of gamra, the alien organisation that runs the star-travel network known as the Exchange. Gamra is like a cross between Dune’s monopolistic Spacing Guild and a United Nations Security Council where everyone is expecting war to break out. By comparison, Nation of Earth is also like the UN, except that it occasionally behaves with the sophistication of an unruly local council Chamber of Commerce.

There are a few nice action set-pieces keeping the debates and conspiracy-hunting from slowing things down, and the linked central mysteries are well-constructed and satisfying. I found the ultimate villain of the piece was not too difficult to identify, but saying that there are plenty of surprises to be had. In terms of Wilson’s very complicated romantic life, I felt he was sometimes a bit improbably dense or in borderline-cruel denial, but it resolved well and I certainly never felt it got in the way of the intrigue or the shooting.

Seeing Red is an excellent thriller, with what seemed to me to be solid science underpinning the intrigue and action. I’m planning to read the sequels.

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