January 18, 2020

Review: Necessity’s Child by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

On sale now!

Nothing says science fiction like old school world-building. Through the use of a thoroughly constructed backdrop, the reader soon gets lost in a world as familiar as their own neighborhood. Some of our faves in terms of science fiction world building include Dune, City without End and The Quiet War saga.

This week’s review represents our first fortray into the Liaden Universe. Necessity’s Child by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller out from Baen Books is a stand-alone novel which fits into the enduring saga. In it, we’re presented with the distant world of Surebleak and its diametrically opposing cultures. On the one hand, we see this world through the eyes of the kompani,  a wandering shadow culture that is happy to initiate interstellar trade and live largely unnoticed in the bigger political picture.

That balance is upset, however, with the arrival of the Clan Korval.  The Clan has its own inscrutable interests in which the kompani see a simultaneous threat and opportunity. What we really liked about this novel is how it depicts internecine class warfare. From Star Trek to recent books such as The Creative Fire, the great mark of science fiction is its ability to make taboos approachable. You may be driven and motivated by your station in life, but beware of opportunity, might be the lesson espoused in Necessity’s Child.

This whirlwind of events drives three main characters together in a desperate final act; the wandering Rys, Clan Koval’s littlest warrior Syl Vor and kompani apprentice Kezzi. We see their journey for self discovery much like that of Bilbo in Lord of the Rings.

One thing we noticed that seems to highlight a trend in modern day science fiction; Necessity’s Child was very dialogue driven. And that’s not all bad… the characters were believable and compelling, and well, make you care about the final outcome. The worst thing a writer can do is make the reader want to root for the invading aliens, or killer zombies, etc. It just seems to this reviewer that the art of science fiction exposition is frowned upon these days almost to the point of anathema. We want to know how the world of Surebleak and the society of the kompani works. Clarke and Asimov would spend several pages explaining a backdrop. That might prove to be the death of a writer today. Perhaps jumping into the Liaden Universe just exacerbated this perception for this reader. Maybe a glossary or some accompanying appendices or maps would have cleared things up and gave us old school science fiction readers the “exposition fix” we secretly crave. In fact, the author’s website does just this and clears up much of the back story for the Liaden Universe.

But overall, we enjoyed Necessity’s Child and may just dig further into the intrigue that is the Liaden Universe.

Next week: We sink our teeth into an action & adventure-packed yarn from Baen Books with Tiger by the Tail!



  1. [...] Liaden universe have come to adore. Devotees of this space will also remember our recent review of Necessity’s Child, also from the same saga. Contained within are 17 stories that not only serve as a great gateway [...]

  2. [...] Lee & Steve Miller. We’ve reviewed one other Liaden Universe novel earlier this year, titled Necessity’s Child. In Ghost Ship, First Class courier pilot Theo Waitley inherits the command (and friendship) of a [...]

  3. [...] Terran blood feud. Fans of this space will remember our past review of the Liaden Universe novel Necessity’s Child… fans of these fantastic worlds shouldn’t miss out on Trade [...]

Speak Your Mind