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Killswitch: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel (Cassandra Kresnov) (Cassandra Kresnov Novels) Paperback – 1 Oct 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 451 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (1 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591025982
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591025986
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Joel Shepherd was born in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1974. He has studied Film and Television, International Relations, has interned on Capitol Hill in Washington, and traveled widely in Asia. His first trilogy, the Cassandra Kresnov Series, consists of Crossover, Breakaway and Killswitch. Visit Joel Shepherd's Web site at --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Good characterisation, complex multi-layers plotline, fast-paced action. This is the first in a series that builds a believable future world with all the problems and complexities of our current one (including devious politicians and money-focused corporations). Fortunately, in Cassandra Kresnov you have a complex character that will stand up for what's right....and kick much ass as she does so.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bear Brain on 22 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is part of a Sci-Fi trilogy with a heroine at its epicentre.

Guns, hardbodies, and technology.

What's not to like.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
GI Jane meets Cassandra 8 Jan. 2008
By G. D. Geiss - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the third in a series of titles featuring everybody's favorite synthetic person, Cassandra Kresnov. Created by one of two competing interstellar political entities, The League, she is an experimental, very high intellect GI: a soldier, a leader, a surfer, a completely synthetic living thinking independantly motivated creature in the likeness of a beautiful athletic woman, just faster, stronger, more electronically capable and almost infinitely more deadly than normal humans or "straights" as they are known to GI's. As she grew up (she's 17 in this one, I think), she began to question the system that created her, it's motives, its treatment of all GI's but especially the "Regs" (low intelligence cannon fodder, so to speak), and all the blood on her own highly capable monomer hands.

Shepherd sets the trilogy (so far) on one of the Federation's (the other political entity) worlds where Sandy (as her friends call her) has secretly defected just as the League/Federation war itself comes to an end and eventually the League government that made her collapses. At first Kresnov tries to just blend in as a private citizen using her superior network interfacing capability to earn her way, only to get caught up in a plot against her by rogue Federation Intelligence types, then a plot to kill the President of her adopted homeworld using "bollowed" Reg GI's, and in this episode a plot by the same Federation spooks with help from shadow figures from the League in the form of one of Cassandra's initial "creators" and Jane, a "sister" that she never suspected she had, to eliminate Sandy and bring down the Federation reform elements led by the same Callayan President they tried to kill before. Running at least parallel to, if not interwoven with that plot, is the presence of Fifth Fleet in Callayan orbit and occupying its economic lifesblood, its space stations. Opposing them, but trying not to start a shooting war with its own brothers is Third Fleet, loyal to Federation civil authorities and led by a tall Texas born maverick Captain. Tension is everywhere. Action abounds. All in a day's work for Commander Cassandra Kresnov, CDF.

Along the way, Shepherd has created an interesting world, interesting characters, and asks interesting questions about sentience, what it means to be "human", morals, war, political conflict, love, and life. The action can be intense and quite reasonable, which in Sci Fi really only means halfway plausible and internally consistent. The series is uniformly well written and a real page turner. Don't start one of these an hour before bedtime if you've got anything important first thing next morning. I thought the interaction in this volume between Sandy and Jane was fascinating, especially in light of the killswitch issue, and the eventual resolution of their inevitable showdown, which I won't give away. Adding texture to that is Sandy's relationship with Rhian Chu, one of her former Dark Star mates with whom she was unexpectedly reunited at the end of the prior book (Breakaway), as well as Chu's own surprising development in the intervening two years: imagine, if you will, a battle tested synthetic soldier near as deadly as Kresnov herself discovering an abiding love of children, wondering what kind of mother she'd make, and contemplating adoption.

These books are well worth the read. I find them to be among the best SciFi offerings of the past few years with both lots of action and philosophical speculation a la Issac Assimov or Poul Anderson. Great stuff as GI Jane meets Cassandra.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic Characters Get a Little Bogged Down 25 April 2008
By T. Karr - Published on
Format: Paperback
First, if you have not read "Crossover," the first Cassandra Kresnov novel, don't bother with "Killswitch." You will miss too much necessary background to fully enjoy this third installment.

Cassandra was designed to be the ultimate military fighting machine with a created intelligence manufactured by the League. She also happens to be a sculpted, beautiful blonde. As readers of the first two novels know "Sandy" has evolved beyond the parameters of her original design specs. She has become human in her thought processes and her ability to experience emotions.

Sandy's boyfriend, Ari, has discovered that Sandy's designers incorporated a killswitch in Sandy that will knock her dead if the code is activated. Further, there appears to be a new military presence on the planet of Callay that threatens to upset the precarious political balance that has been achieved.

Things become even more interesting when the scientist most responsible for Sandy's design just happens to be found illegally visiting Callay at the same time. Sandy and her colleagues try to find what and who are behind the unsettling events that are taking place on Callay while trying to keep Sandy safe.

There is much more to "Killswitch", but I don't want to spoil any surprises. This 450 page novel has great potential, but too many pages are spent describing the politics of the Federation and the League. And way too many pages are spent describing the minutia of Sandy's various battles.

This novel has fantastic, futuristic characters and great themes such as "what makes us human?" I can heartily recommend the first Kresnov novel, but have strong reservations against investing your time on this third novel, "Killswitch." I found the lengthy battle descriptions and the constant intrusion of politics into the story to be quite tedious.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
No rest for the killing-machine with a heart... 9 April 2008
By April - Published on
Format: Paperback
Power is shifting away from Earth. Tanusha, capital of Callay, is vying to be the new center of the Federation, but conservative elements of the Fleet hover about the planet's stations, crucial for trade, and threaten a take-over. Meanwhile, plots and intrigues abound planet-side, one of which is directed towards Commander Cassandra Kresnov, a super-intelligent, super-powered, nearly indestructible combat android who has left the League, which created her, and is now one of the trusted aids to Callayan President Neiland, and one of those in charge of the Callayan Defence Force.

Sandy, to her her friends, is outwardly a gorgeous blond with a best friend, Major Vanessa Rice, also of the CDF, and a lover, Ari, who happens to be a special agent who hears that Sandy may have a built-in Killswitch that will immediately kill her if activated. Then she is ambushed by several Mobile Anti-Personnel bots... leading to suspicion of some infiltration of the Callayan Government. And then someone tries to use the Killswitch--causing Sandy to cut herself off from the network that could trace her position and make her vulnerable to being close enough for someone to use the Killswitch on her--and go undercover, even though she has one of the most well-known faces on Callay. Sandy and Ari and Vanessa and her friends and aids need to find out who is behind the attempt on her life, and also who and what in the government has been compromised, who is behind assassination and sabotage undermining Callay and the Federation and trying to precipitate war... and why there is a rogue GI as powerful as Sandy but without her humanity and heart, but otherwise so similar they could be sisters, running amok.

Lots of action, fighting, hand-to-hand, between Sandy and the war-bots and Sandy and the other GI and on the space stations by teams... and some quieter philosophy and introspection about life and love and pacifism and conflict. And political and military maneuvering. Interesting characters and situations and decent futuristic world-building. This is a solid and enjoyable read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Killswitch: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel 3 July 2008
By James M. Gibbens - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read all three books in this series and have enjoyed them all. The charterers are well thought out with personal behavior you would see in your friends making them more real than some books I have read. The computer network tech in the series is plausible in our world today to some extent if only it was developed. Making me wish I had the implant to really have hands free cell calls! What really gets me is the medical tech since I am a retired 82nd Paratrooper and suffer from chronic pain from the many parachute jumps through the years and the author has let me into what could be with realist nano and other treatments that are just being investigated by our scientist. Oh I wish I could have a shot of nano's and get rid of this pain.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Kresnov saga continues to entertain while becoming a wee bit deeper 23 Aug. 2009
By Michael Lichter - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
KILLSWITCH, the third installment in the action-oriented Kassandra Kresnov sci-fi series, continues the saga of GI (artificial soldier) Sandy Kresnov, two years after the events of the previous volume, BREAKING AWAY. Sandy is now second-in-command in the new Callay Defense Force (CDF), the militarized successor to the SWAT team she was previously adopted by. Sandy's life is going well -- she is popular with most of the public (especially tech geeks), she has taken wiley hacker/spy Ari as a lover, she lives and works with her best friend Vanessa Rice, and she gets to see her old squad mate (and fellow GI) Rhian Chu on a regular basis. On the other hand, there are still a lot of people who'd like to take her down (or out), by any means necessary.

Thus, the apparent assassination attempt on Sandy that comes early in KILLSWITCH is no big surprise. But who is behind it, and why? Is it anti-tech elements on Callay who resent her authority and popularity? Is the Federation Intelligence Agency, her old nemesis, aiming at revenge? Is it Earth-first elements within the Federation who want to derail the voters' decision to move its capitol from Earth to Callay? Is it the remaining partisans of the old League regime, hoping to tie up loose ends? Or could it be the man who designed her, who just happens to be making a mysterious visit to Tanusha? Don't expect the answers to come quickly.

As in the earlier books, Sandy may be a celebrity, but the difficulties she experiences are less about her as a person than about social faultlines within the Federation. These include differences over the ethics of biotechnology, about the nature of humanity, artificial intelligence and sentience, about home rule and democracy, about the amount of leeway that intelligence services should have in wartime and in time of peace, and about the role of the military in a peace-loving society. Shepherd is not particularly skilled as a social critic or political theorist, but his interweaving of personal troubles and larger social problems gives his story some depth and suggests that he took at least a couple of social science courses at university.

The most poignant moment in the book comes and goes too quickly. In CROSSOVER, author Shepherd establishes Sandy as a male fantasy--an attractive, flexible young woman who treats sex as good, clean, fun. Her upbringing attached no particular value to sex except as a form of recreation--and her built-in inability to become pregnant undoubtedly helped. In KILLSWITCH, though, things change somewhat. She establishes a steady relationship with Ari, and she begins to recognize the problems that arise when others take sex seriously even though she doesn't. More importantly, she has a discussion with Vanessa about love and realizes that she may not be capable of romantic love, or perhaps romantic love means something different to her than it does to "real" people. This is a bit of a breakthrough, in that it finally admits that artificial humans may differ from regular humans in an important way -- outside of super strength and inorganic construction.

Also, astute readers will have noted the commonalities between Shepherd's universe and C.J. Cherryh's Alliance-Union universe (best presented in Cyteen). Cherryh's Union, like Shepherd's League, consists of space stations and planets distant from Earth that rebel against Earth rule and use artificially produced people called "azi" to fight their war against Earth. The key distinction between azi and normal people is that azi, who are just regular humans otherwise -- not like the synthetic GIs, are raised communally and taught primarily through "tape", high intensity virtual reality experiences that they absorb while in a drug-induced highly-suggestible state. Azi are graded from alpha to zeta (like people in Brave New World) based on intelligence and creativity, but they all share the characteristics of being servile, being emotionally fragile, and having difficulty adapting to novel situations.

We learn in KILLSWITCH that people in Shepherd's universe also take "tape" when they want to learn something quickly, and that people back in the League have been experimenting with tape as an alternative to experience when training GIs. Using tape, they hope to create GIs as smart as Sandy but without the independent streak that led Sandy to defect to the Federation. Use of the term "tape", referring to the medium used in the 1980s for storage of audio, video, and computer data, is an obvious nod to Cherryh. In any event, when Sandy encounters a tape-taught GI, the League's strategy gets put to the test.

I see both the too-brief discussion of Sandy's possible shortcomings as a human being and the differences between a being that learns through experience and one that learns through indoctrination as positive developments in this series. I still find Sandy and all of her friends to be too artificial, not sharp-edged enough to be real people, but I think that Shepherd is maturing, if only very slowly, as a writer.

In any event, the positives of this novel are decently-written (and not too-confusing) action, tense-enough hints of intrigue, centrality of Asian-origin cultures (vs. the European origins that predominate in most U.S./U.K. sci-fi), and broad at-the-expense-of-pompous-functionaries humor. The negatives are cartoonish characters and political infighting, repetitious situations (Sandy has another smart-mouthed encounter with the Senate, Sandy again goes "off the grid", Sandy again fools mucks around with traffic control, etc.), implausible situations (as when Sandy goes "off the grid" despite being second-in-command at the planet's only military organization), and limited insight into how this universe got to be the way that it is. My real rating of the book is 3.6 stars, but I'm rounding that up to 4 stars to be nice :).

N.B. There is probably enough context in KILLSWITCH for a reader to start here and enjoy the book. On the other hand, the Federation/Callay politics are tiresome enough that a new reader will probably lose patience and be dissatisfied with the book -- as is usual, I suggest starting at the beginning.
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