Audible Edition on sale now!
Technology is a Pandora’s Box. Once you put something out there into the universe, you never can predict the manner in which people or (other sentient species) will use it. Or in the case of this week’s review, how it’ll come back to haunt you. This week, we look at Blowback by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, the 9th book in the Retrieval Artist series out in December from WMG Publishing. Fans of this space will recall our reviews of Rusch’s excellent Diving universe series, including Diving into the Wreck, City of Ruins and Boneyards. Rusch is an excellent world builder, and we especially enjoy the refreshing new universes she utilizes along with the engaging characters that populate them.
Blowback deals with the fallout and the aftermath of the Anniversary Day attacks on Earth’s Moon. We thought it elegant and fitting that the Earth Alliance has a Port named Armstrong on the Moon; hopefully it’ll be in or near the real series of craters named after the Apollo 11 astronauts. The book takes a fascinating turn into an alien underworld as Retrieval Artist extraordinaire Miles Flint returns along with his daughter Talia to uncover a plot that may dwarf the initial Anniversary Day attacks. This is juxtaposed against interplanetary politics and efforts by the Moon’s Chief Security officer Noelle DeRicci to hold an uneasy United Domes government coalition together. We always like our intergalactic politics as truly alien, and Rusch delivers the goods. Its one thing to depict members of a Federation whining about treaties, quite another to depict motivations that are truly, well, alien.
And speaking of which, there’s another excellent twist to think about as depicted in the book; the psychology of alien criminals. While it’s easy to depict their motivations as similar to our own (in fact, science fiction serves as a sort of “modern day mythos” in this fashion), Blowback offers another tier of realism by giving alien criminals often inscrutable goals and motives. Which raises the question; what is a crime? While it’s arguable that an alien civilization will by necessity be subject to the same crucible of evolution and have to come up with laws against murder, stealing, etc in order to co-exist, how those might apply to outsiders and differ in more sophisticated concepts is less clear. While Blowback and the Retrieval Artist series touches on these issues, perhaps there’s healthy fodder for Law & Order: Alpha Centauri out there in the sci-fi universe?
But as usual, we digress. Do give Blowback a read. We’d like to point out that the author has an excerpt of the book up on her site for the month of November, and puts featured chapters of her work up every month. We have to admit that we’re a newcomer to the series, but may have to dig in to the earlier books. Blowback does stand on its own as a great read!
Note: A complete listing of Tales of the Retrieval Artist universe can be found here.