2/18/08

Grimspace (2008)

By Ann Aguirre

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
By all accounts, Sirantha Jax should have burned out years ago...

As the carrier of a rare gene, Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace--a talent which cuts into her life expectancy, but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. But then the ship she's navigating crash-lands, and she's accused of killing everyone on board. It’s hard for Jax to defend herself: she has no memory of the crash.

Now imprisoned and the subject of a ruthless interrogation, Jax is on the verge of madness. Then a mysterious man breaks into her cell, offering her freedom--for a price. March needs Jax to help his small band of rogue fighters break the Corp monopoly on interstellar travel—and establish a new breed of jumper.

Jax is only good at one thing--grimspace--and it will eventually kill her. So she may as well have some fun in the meantime...
A little disclaimer: Ann is one of my best friends. Although I only just read Grimspace over the weekend, I've known everything else about it: the story behind how and why she wrote it, its pre-sale history, all little details of its pre-pub journey. Just about everything. (There's a reason why I'm in the acknowledgements, y'all.)

But I hadn't actually read it. Why? I told Ann I wouldn't open the darn thing until it had a cover wrapped around it. I knew she'd sell, and I wasn't playing along until it was really real.

So here I am. I read it. And if it's straight sci-fi, I'll eat my damn cat.

Wait... *checks spine* Ace calls it sci-fi. Huh. No mention of such strong characters and romance and hot sexxxoring. Which leaves me profoundly confused. After all, Grimspace isn't Foundation or Dune or Martian Chronicles--works of profound imagination that wind up lacking on the human element. Sure there's the profound imagination part, such as alien bounty hunters and crazy bat pterodactyl flesh eating things and space travel and advanced technology and abbreviations up the wahzoo.

But whoa... what's this? Folks falling in love? A happy ending where their mutual sanity and well-being depends on one another? Loyalty and courage and deep, dark moments of sacrifice? Holy Mary, people, it's a romance! Someone tell somebody important! The note-worthy difference between this and most sci-fi is that Jax is distinctly tuned to a woman's POV. That, and the characters enjoy their sex lives. You mean folks weren't forced to have sex merely for the propagation of the species, like Spock and some antiquated mating ritual? They just...you know...liked it? No shit.

The pace is lightening quick. Don't expect to be able to accomplish anything else until you finish. It was pretty much a "Saturday night straight thru to Sunday morning" thing for me. The plot was the best sort of adventure yarn, where Goal Z has Goals A-Y stretching ahead of it, and they hit trouble before they even start reciting the list. It's fun and super-charged with all manner of new thoughts. The sheer scope of imagination humbles me.

However, nothing about Jax's POV surprised me. The fault rests with me and Ann, not the book. We've shared too many in-jokes and IM chats. It's not just peeking behind the curtain to see the Wizard standing there, it's knowing how the Wizard thinks, how she speaks, what she finds interesting, her turn-ons. For me, Grimspace wasn't as original as it could've been because I've already met the original. She's my friend. But for everyone else, you'll just be blown away.

OK folks, here's your chance to win a copy. Leave a comment. Ask a question. Anything at all. I'll pick a name on the release date for Grimspace, February 26, and send the winner a copy.

(And don't forget to wander over to Ann's site for the chance to win other mondo prizes. She's far more generous than me--but then again, it's her book!)

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