No, I haven’t changed my legal name. But if you’re familiar with BuzzFeed “Which ____ of ____ are you?” quizzes… well, a colleague and very good friend of mine, J. Grace Pennington, has created a quiz in that vein for her space opera series, Firmament. It turns out that my personality matches most closely with that of the ship’s Doctor, Gerard Lloyd. If you’ve read the series at all (which you should, as it’s quite good), why don’t you take the quiz and see who you are?
This quiz was released as part of the build-up to the release of Machiavellian, the third book in this 18-book series. As I have had the unique privilege of reading that book before its completion, allow me to review it for you.
Machiavellian is another ‘episode’ in the adventures of Andi and the crew of the Surveyor, coming hard on the heels of their discovery of human life on the world of Kainus Ge. And its plot is driven partially by the consequences of that discovery.
If you remember from In His Image, Kainus Ge is an incredibly barren and inhospitable world (yes, far worse than Tantooine). When the Surveyor picks up the crew of a science station to take them back home, the lead scientist points out that an exotic material he’s been researching could be the key to rapidly rendering Kainus Ge inhabitable. There’s just one problem– the only harvestable concentrations of this compound are found in the immense stellar forge known as the center of the Milky Way: the only place in the galaxy which is held off-limits to ships by interstellar law.
This scientific background, though, is incidental and serves mostly as the motive force to get the plot rolling. As someone who likes his science to be… if not believable, at least thoroughly developed, this is a bit disappointing to me. If you’re a die-hard fan of hard SF, this isn’t the series for you. But if you don’t need deep scientific research to make a novel enjoyable for you…. The strengths of this series lie in the characters, their interactions, and their interpersonal struggles, and the author delivers on all accounts.
The moral struggle faced by the characters is well thought out and very believable, and their responses to the dilemma posed them are as varied as their personalities. But the moral dilemma soon becomes less important than the question of sabotage and endangerment of the ship’s crew. The author makes this transition neatly, and it enables the book to end on a note which is not didactic, but rather thought-provoking (important, given that the author’s answer to the moral dilemma is not so important as the reflection it raises among her readers).
So, yes. I highly recommend this book (and series); especially as, if the past three books are any indication, the quality of each consecutive book will only increase as time goes on.