This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
Engrossed in devising rhapsodic phrases about a newly discovered sun, Lena is far too slow to respond to the threat of pirate invaders - until they board her yacht and take her hostage. Flanagan, their captain, explains that they will hold her ransom to extort money from the brutally ruthless ruler of Humankind, the Cheo. As Lena is one of the Cheo's daughters, he's bound to pay up. Only he doesn't. Because, as we discover, nothing is exactly at is initially seems. Not the Cheo, not Flanagan - and certainly not Lena.
As her imprisonment with the pirate band continues, Lena re-examines her life. And we are treated to a fascinating insight into a complex, believable posthuman character, warts and all. The episodes she recounts take us on a journey from moments of true poignancy to high farce, while exploring the options open to a driven, insecure character on finding herself immortal. However, living alongside the pirate band means that she now has to accommodate the needs and wishes of others - something she hasn't had to do for a very long time.
Palmer's world is convincingly depicted with plenty of hard science to support his detailed universe. In fact, my only major quibble with this book is that Lena's descriptions of the technological changes throughout her lifetime, at times, holds up the narrative. Other than his deft handling of his heroine, the other standout feature of this book is Philip's punchy writing style and the wry humour that permeates the story. It leavens the violent backdrop and helps us identify with Lena. I cared about her - despite her opinionated, vain and selfish character. The fact that Palmer manages to pull off such a trick in his first novel marks him as a talent to watch.