Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A SF trilogy with a little bit of everything

Hammered, Scardown, and Worldwired, a trilogy by author Elizabeth Bear, involves a number of science fiction themes, tying them together with strong characters and tight prose.  It has a bit of mystery, a bit of cyberpunk, a bit of space flight and alien technology, and a bit of geopolitical thriller.  Not to mention one of my all time favorite protagonists.

Jenny Casey is pushing 50.  She's been a runaway, a soldier, a medevac pilot, and a military test subject.  She's lost an arm, a sister, and any hope of having a normal life.  She runs an unlicensed clinic in run-down mid 21st century Hartford, Conneticut, and sleeps in a vintage car she never gets around to restoring.  A local ganglord with razors for teeth (but he's actually not that bad of a guy) shows up with one of his boys who is wracked in ravages of drug overdose.  When shown the vial of pills the boy ingested, she immediately recognizes a military drug that was tested on her years ago.

Meanwhile, astronauts have discovered a buried alien spacecraft on Mars and are just beginning to learn how to apply its technology, an engineer recently released from prison creates a self-aware computer program, and nations wrestle for position in a world with increasing population and diminishing resources.

What I enjoy most about these books is that even as the story becomes larger, it remains intimately focused on a small number of characters.  It is engagingly written with believable and unique characters, and the science is hard enough to remain believable while remaining accessible to a more casual reader.

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