Grimspace by Ann Aguirre, paperback, Feb 2008 release, published by Ace, fantasy. As many readers have stated, Grimspace has various shades of pop culture influence, featuring a diverse and motley crew of voyagers traveling throughout the galaxy, trying to topple an established institution with controversial ideas for change.
Sirantha Jax is a jumper. She works for the Farwan Corporation and she is the only survivor of the Sargasso. Her last jump killed 82 people that included dignitaries, officials, and her beloved pilot, Kai. Since the crash, Jax has been held in lock-up and is being interrogated in a Corps facility. Her memories of the crash are fragmented and are orchestrated in such a way as to make her believe that the fault lies with her.
Meanwhile, word gets around about Jax fall out with the Corps and March and his crew (Dina, Loras and Saul) from the Folly, use this opportunity to rescue her. It is March who sneaks in, grabs her and then heads back out to Lachion, a planet unrecognized by the Corps.
Jax possess a rare J-gene that allows her to travel through grimspace. Grimspace is described as being the “subspace” between two points of interstellar travel. Jumpers use grimspace to discover new planets and they are utilized heavily as the main source for commercial trade between interstellar worlds. The Corps have always been the solitary source for jumpers thereby giving them economic power and edge over many of the other conglomerate worlds.
The life span of a jumper is pretty short since burn out occurs usually after ten years. Jumpers are rare and Jax stands out because she has survived the longest of any jumper around. Her many successful jumps and discoveries have made her a navigational star in the Corps community. However, her last failed jump that killed her pilot and several important officials has made her a target of government propaganda and conspiracy. She is tagged a fugitive and an enemy by the government she used to work for and at the same time she cannot help but be a vulnerable target to those who wish to use her genetic lottery for their own financial gains.
The subplot of the story seems to focus around Jax being apart of a “vision” to start up a rival academy group that will train future generation of jumpers who have been either discarded by the Corps or who have retired or possess the rare J-gene and remain under the radar. The end result being that this will enable competitive trade and interstellar travel through grimspace among all conglomerate worlds. The Corps are the only source for jumpers which translates to owning the monopoly for interstellar space travel and trade among other things and it seems that they will stop at nothing to keep it that way.
As for action -there are more than a few scenes with the characters running for their lives against man-eating creatures; we watch them outmaneuver some political backstabbing and narrowly escape from life threatening situations. We get to visit the Outskirts, which seems to be comprised of planets that are unrecognized by the Corps and tend to harbor fugitives. There’s a bit of politics to add a layer of complexity to the plot which I enjoyed the most.
The plot is thick with suspense. There is the native yet deadly habitat on Lachion that had me turning the pages quickly. Upon landing on Lachion, a rival clan tries to kidnap Jax and brief combat ensues. After it is over, Loras who is a savant, stands off to the side and looks all around him and declares with a menacing, yet all knowing voice and he doesn’t need to shout it for anyone to hear him either because everyone knows what he is talking about when he says quietly: “they’re coming.”
There is a romantic subplot between Jax and March that is nicely built and an added bonus; at the start the two strongly dislike each other but as the plot progresses and enough time has passed, the two of them end up falling in love with each other. The main thrust of this story is about Jax rediscovering herself. After years of being a star navigator for the Corps, she is up for a do over.
Jax is not exactly heroic or all that likable. She is flawed and broken as is March and each finds solace within each other. March is attractive in his practicality. He is no-nonsense yet sensitive and supportive when needed. There’s a scene where he tells her that she has “beautiful bones” hidden under all that hair after she is forced to shave her head so that she doesn’t attract the bounty hunters who might be looking for her in her home town of Gehenna.
The denouement was one I didn’t see coming in terms of a character’s transition from a villain to that of an supportive ally; and it unfolded nicely to reveal what I had suspected all along in relation to the main story arc. Grimspace for me was more of a character driven story. Grimspace is a novel of space adventure, action with a plot that goes all over the place and leaves you wanting more because after it ended, I could have easily picked up the next book and kept on reading and btw, that next book is Wanderlust due out Sept 08.
Grimspace is shelved in fantasy (at least that’s where I’ve seen it at my local bookstore). It has just the right amount of romance; just the right amount of action, angst, politics, suspense with memorable cast of characters that stood out and made this one hell of a story. So, if you’re still on the fence, I hope I was able to convince you and if my voice alone doesn’t work for you why don’t you visit DearAuthor and see where various readers have pretty much said the same thing I am saying to you right now: read this book. It’s good. A.
[tags]Ann Aguirre, Grimspace (fantasy), Fantasy reviews[/tags]