I like Science Fiction.
I'm not picky, I like all kinds: Space Opera, Hard Science, Science Fantasy, Alternate History, Action, Thriller.
OK, I AM picky. It has to be GOOD Science Fiction. I want likeable characters, an interesting plot, and believable science (with allowances for the classic dictum that any sufficiently advanced science could well be indistinguishable from magic).
Sarah Hoyt is an experienced writer of historical fiction, romance, fantasy, urban fantasy and yes, science fiction. Darkship Thieves is Sarah's first venture into space opera for Baen Books. However, DST is more than just Space Opera. It is part thriller and part adventure with just a touch of quirky romance, all set in a future that may not be all that different from our own present. Why would I call it a thriller and adventure novel? Well, in addition to Science Fiction, I also like to read thrillers and adventure. Spy novels by Ludlum and Le Carré, adventure by Cussler and Clancy and psychological thrillers by Koontz and Sandford. There is one feature of all of these novels styles that stands out - investment in a character, and an overwhelming urge to pick the protagonist up, shake them by the neck, and shout: "I figured this out, why can't you!" Instead, we keep reading until late at night (or early in the morning), just one more page - surely they'll figure it out on the next page.
You know what I'm talking about - the same urge that drives people to watch those slasher movies where you want to tell the clueless college student "DON'T go in the attic! That's where the bad guy is hiding, can't you SEE it?"
It's called psychological investment, or identification, with a character. In the writing craft, that's what keeps you turning page after page long after your spouse has gone to bed. You HAVE to read that next page because you want to see the hero get the reward, although much more frequently, you want to see the villain get their just desserts.
In Darkship Thieves, Athena Hera Sinistra is the daughter of one of Earth's most rich and powerful men. She accompanies him on a routine trip, playing the dutiful social accessory despite her naturally rebellious nature. However a mutiny on her father's spaceship forces her into an escape pod headed directly for the ancient and deadly Powertree Ring that "grows" power pods for Earth's energy needs. Despite the risk of crashing into an explosive pod, she instead crashes into a dark and furtive ship that is stealing power pods for a colony that Earth doesn't know exists. These "darkship thieves" are the descendents of Earth's aborted attempt to genetically engineered a race of superior humans many hundreds of years ago.
'Thena is rescued by Kit, the pilot and lone occupant of the darkship. Despite Thena's wish to return to Earth, Kit rescues her from her own folly and takes her back to the Eden colony. To say that Thena is displeased with her rescuer and status as an unwilling exile is an understatement. Athena Hera Sinistra is a deeply flawed character, raised nearly in isolation from mainstream society. She rebels against nearly every authority figure in her life and is the despair of many schools, tutor, doctors and hospital. Her contempt for the same is revealed on many occasions, but despite all this, Thena is a likable character. There is a REASON she is this way, and when Thena discovers it, as well as the truth about "Daddy Dearest" the reader is right there cheering her on.
In Darkship Thieves, Sarah Hoyt has created characters we can believe - flawed, but worthwhile, and on this voyage of self-discovery, including the most humorous romance I'VE ever read in Science Fiction, the reader is right there along with Thena and Kit, cheering them on, and sometimes wanting to pick Thena up by the scruff of her neck, shake her, and shout: "*I* figured out what 'Daddy Dearest' is up to, why can't YOU?"
Sarah Hoyt has created an enjoyable read that should please fans of urban fantasy, science fiction, and even diehard adventure/thriller fans, too. And when you think about it, there's just enough suggestion that maybe there's more to this story than can fit in one novel. Here's hoping for more great characters from Sarah Hoyt.