"Love's a bitch, ain't she?"
Not for me, but certainly for Rast Randall and Jo-Jo Rasterovitch who have both fallen for Baronessa Mira Fedor from Araldis. When Mira is captured by the Extropists (nascent humanesques/post-species) Mira shows why Rast and Jo-Jo care so much for her. Resilience is the quality I find most describes the young refugee from Araldis. I'm not certain if resilience is something that most find attractive, but I know that I do. Part of that attraction lies in my own history and perhaps part of it has to do with resilient people radiating some sort of invisible strength. Fighting her fears and going on in spite of the traumas that come her way signifies the kind of courage the young Baronessa has.
Insignia has shown Mira how utterly alien the thought patterns of other creatures can be. Wanton-Poda is about to show her how "evolved" humanesques no longer have much in common with their roots. Indeed, their morals are amoral seen from a Western point of view. Through this, dePierres shows us just how different our own cultures can be in this mix that our global village has become. What one ethnic background considers only proper another might consider sociopathic or paranoid or cruel. Judging others based on our own backgrounds is unwise yet impossible to avoid. Again and again Mira is confronted with the need to reach beyond her own way of thinking. But it ain't easy!
Tekton is from highly competitive Lostol. Whether the whole population is like him is impossible for me to say, but he and his cousin both seem supremely self-absorbed and willing to do anything to win over the other. Sole (the Entity/God/strange intelligence) knows to use these two qualities against them in its attempt to achieve its own goals. We don't find out what these goals are until the end of the Sentients of Orion serial (yes, I cheated). As we see in "Mirror Space", Tekton learns what being helpless is all about and finds his narcissism challenged. Perhaps there is potential for change in him.
One person who seems to have no hope of changing is Trin Pelligrini. He keeps on insisting that Mira has run off and fights Cass Mulravey for power of the survivors. His ego needs constant stroking, one reason he is so fond of Djeserit. Yet this utter and complete belief in his own superiority might be what the survivors need in order to stay alive.
In fact, characters like Trin Pelligrini, Lancer Farr and Tektor Lostol are fascinating people. I find there is something about deviant fictional characters that makes a story much better. However much I hate it whenever such a person turns up in my own life, they surely make for a deeper understanding of the human psyche. Literature serves this function, along with many others, for me.
One thing that is certain is that Marianne de Pierres has the flow needed to grab hold of me and drag me along in her story. Annoyingly, yet wonderfully, I find myself unable to resist her pull.
on 29 March 2011
Of course, if you're intelligent about your reading, you will have already read 'Dark Space' and 'Chaos Space', the first two books in this series. If - like me - you're a such a space opera junkie that a cool spacescape cover and promising first page prove to be irresistible, then you're probably scratching your head. My strong advice is not to read this book before the first two in the series. Some multi-book series are constructed so the story arcs more or less tie up a number of loose ends in each book, while leaving a few dangling to keep you reading. This isn't one of them. Each volume is thoroughly embedded into the narrative, so that I was frankly floundering for a while. However, I didn't really care too much.
Pierres' cast of eccentric characters found themselves in such a range of fascinating situations that I was prepared to relax and go with the flow. This is largely down to the punchy writing style which was a joy to read, as sampled in the opening of the book:-
'Falling in love was like being shot out into space wearing an EVA suit with five minutes' air supply left. At least that was the analogy Jo-Jo Rasterovich applied to it - having experienced both.'
And there I was, hooked. I'm now going to backtrack to 'Dark Space' and start from the beginning, before moving through the rest of the series, which is the sensible way to read any multi-book narrative.
Despite the fact that I crashed mid-series into this world, and spent a while getting my bearings, it didn't prove to be too difficult. While the pace isn't leisurely, neither is it so flat-out that the characters and their role in the story became buried, which was something of an issue when I pulled 'Code Noir' off the shelf without reading the first Parrish Plessis book. She has the balance between character development and action far more satisfactory and the pacing is better judged with a few pauses for breath, before plunging us into yet another piece of action. And in smoothing out some of the crinkles, I'm delighted to report that she hasn't lost her sharp, highly readable prose style. All in all, she is shaping up to be a real player in this genre and I am definitely starting a campaign for the first two books as birthday Christmas presents... please!
on 11 November 2009
Mirror Space is a book I've been eagerly awaiting this year. So far the Sentients of Orion series has gone from strength to strength with the slow build up in Dark Space to the full space opera of Chaos Space. What I was really hoping for in Mirror Space was a story that not only continued the events from Chaos Space, but also added more to the mix and started answering the questions that had been building up throughout the previous two novels. What I got was exactly that, but delivered in such a way that fulfilled and exceeded all my expectations while adding some interesting things to the mix.
Once again Marianne splits the book up into sections that follow various characters, each in different situations after the dramatic ending of Chaos Space. Mira has been taken by the alien Extropists and effectively held prisoner on one of their planets; Rast and Jo-Jo are on Insignia, although they are split up from the biozoon during the story; Tekton and Thales find themselves, rather coincidentally, on the junk planet of Edo that is ruled by Lasper Farr; Trin, Djes and the survivors on Araldis are moving from island to island hoping to find a safe haven. Suffice to say that these individual stories are now coming slowly together for the grand finale in Transformation Space, something that is clearly evident by the way Mirror Space finishes.
One thing I will say about this series is that it's been one build up after another. Marianne has cleverly laid clues in Dark Space and Chaos Space as to the direction of the story and it's now paying off extremely well. The central focus is once again on Mira, this time with her unborn baby which is something that the Extropists are very interested in studying due to the ability that allows her to fly a biozoon. Although Mira's storyline is the main one throughout the series it was the one I found least enjoyable this time around. It's not that it's bad, just that the other plot lines are such good reading. Tekton and his quest for the quixite throw up some interesting scenarios, while Thales truly seems like a lost puppy thrown into a situation he has no idea how to handle. While the sections following Rast and Jo-Jo are interesting, it's the discoveries made by them and Insignia that ultimately throw more light onto the situation surrounding the invasion of Araldis. I found myself enjoying the story of the Araldis survivors again this time around, with their travels enjoying mixed fortunes and Trin starting to be accepted by some as their leader.
Not only do we continue to follow interesting and gripping story lines, Marianne shows us how she can create vivid and memorable locations. The Extro planet we visit with Mira is amazing and completely alien while Edo, the junk planet, is great and completely believable. While Marianne has created a realistic setting she has not done so through excessive world building or explanations. The story flows along very nicely and the pace doesn't falter at all, even during the slower sections where we're not quite sure what's going to happen, although the final few scenes are particularly memorable and left me wanting more.
I only really have one gripe with Mirror Space, although this is something I suspect will come to the fore mainly in the last book. Sole, the god entity, is almost completely off the page during the story. While a lot of what goes on indirectly relates to it, we don't have any progression as such for that storyline. It's not a huge problem at all, but one that is noticeable.
Despite the one issue I had, I really can't say how pleased I am with Mirror Space. Not only has it improved once again on its predecessor, it offers a more refined and thoroughly enjoyable space opera experience. While the series may ultimately hang on the finale in Transformation Space and the answers it will reveal, Mirror Space has once again shown that the Sentients of Orion series is one that deserves your attention and that Marianne is a writer worthy of praise. Highly recommended.
Having been a fan of Marianne's from her first series (Plessis) I really wanted to get to love her first novel in this series (Dark Space) but was a little upset with the slow pace that it originally set which put me off reading the other novels. With the second it picked up pace and got me interested again and with this titles release you can understand why the whole thing was so slow as with the sheer pace and exuberance within you needed the background to fall onto to keep everything on an even keel. As you'd expect with Marianne, the writing is full of twists and turns, the characters jump out of the pages and you can see each combative maneuver in your minds eye with amazing HD clarity.
Add to the mix vivid landscapes that are almost photographic and the novel written from various Points of View and it's a novel that very much ticks all the right boxes for me as a reader. I am sorry that I doubted the writing within the first book, and I would recommend this to other readers. But do as I did, read the earlier titles in order to get the full impact from the series to date.