Rickert, Rusch, Russell

R’s an easy letter, of course. Lots of names starting with R. Today’s helping of women writers of science-fiction and fantasy includes M. Rickert, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Mary Doria Russell. As always, if the work of any of the authors sounds interesting to you, please do check them out — and if you have enjoyed something by them that I haven’t mentioned, let me know in the comments.

“Traitor” by M. Rickert

Most of what Rickert writes is fantasy, but she does occasionally write some short science fiction. This story was well executed, but quite dark. Alika learns well from her mother, and for her, perhaps, it is a happy ending in a dystopian world — but that doesn’t change the dark nature of the story itself.

The characters are well done, the world perhaps too believable. Little details resonate (I knew a girl who wore bells in her braids in middle school, and I’m sure she did when she was younger as well.), and I had no trouble immersing myself into the story. The one thing that did give me pause was locking the backpack — for the purposes of the story, I could see why it was necessary, but for purposes of the world, I could not.

A very well done story, but I think I’ll stick with Rickert’s fantasy. I could not find a Website for Mary Rickert, although there are some interviews with her at various places on-line.

The Retrieval Artist: A Short Novel by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

This short novel is the start of Rusch’s Retrieval Artist series, a science fiction universe where treaties with aliens make humans subject to alien laws when in alien territory. Some alien laws would definitely fail any test for cruel and unusual punishment. This creates new industries for humans — those who help people disappear so judgement cannot be enacted, and those who go looking for the Disappeared to bring them home or pass on information about their past life. The series is a mix of science fiction and hard-boiled private eye, with a healthy dose of action thrown in.

Both the world-building and the characters are compelling. Okay, yeah, I’m a sucker for PIs, but Miles Flint caught me from the first sentence. “I had just come off a difficult case, and the last thing I wanted was another client.” Of course, his office is a dive, and he prides himself on his objectivity. Still, things get to him. He’s got a heart — and in this universe, there are a lot of things to get to him.

I fully intend to read the entire series, including the new one, Anniversary Day, currently only available as an audio book.

You can find Kristine Kathryn Rusch on her Website, kriswrites.com.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

This isn’t a recent read, but it’s the kind of book that stays with you — Jesuit priests and First Contact. It weaves back and forth between the set-up and action of the mission and the return of Father Emilio Sandoz from the planet Rakhat, badly mutilated and the sole survivor of the original team.

My favorite line from the book has to be “We’re not all abstaining from the same thing.”

The aliens are alien, the humans are deeply human, and the science is wonderful. If for some reason, you haven’t read this book yet, do so. It’s amazing.

Mary Doria Russell is on-line at www.marydoriarussell.net.

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