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review 2015-10-13 00:18
A Murder of Clones by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A Murder of Clones: A Retrieval Artist Universe Novel: Book Three of the Anniversary Day Saga (Volume 10) - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

How would you feel as a reader about the direction of a series when the author introduces a brand new character?


This is the question that Kristine Kathryn Rusch presents in the third book of the Anniversary Day Saga of the Retrieval Artist Series.  I have read and review the nine previous books in the series that features the main characters of Retrieval Artist Miles Flint and the Moon’s Chief Security Officer Noelle DeRicci. I will admit I have grown fond of both characters throughout the series and had some trepidation in reading A Murder of Clones that did not feature either one of them in the novel.


A Murder of Clones introduces Earth Alliance Frontier Marshall Judita Gomez as the main character of the novel.  She launches with her team an unauthorized investigation into a case about the murdering of clones that connects it to the Moon’s Anniversary Day bombings.


Marshall Gomez and team learns more than they bargained for with the investigation. It will put everyone’s careers and lives into jeopardy as they get closer to the truth about those bombings. Also, they uncover a truth about the Earth Alliance that is unsettling to everyone.


As she has done for the entire series, Rusch creates a solid science fiction thriller with complex twists and turns that keeps you guessing right up to the end of the novel. While, I did not warm up to Marshall Gomez like I did with Flint and DeRicci in The Disappeared, the first book of the Retrieval Artist Series.  Gomez has the potential to be a well-written and fully-drawn out character as the Anniversary Day Saga continues towards its conclusion. Also, it does bring a freshness and vitality to a long running series that could be written on autopilot with a skillful storyteller like Rusch.


Murder of Clones is still more of a transition book in the series and it could be read as a standalone. However, I would suggest that new readers start with Anniversary Day and continue with Blowback to get the full scope of this saga.  I highly recommend this novel and looking to Book Four of the Anniversary Day Saga, Search and Recovery.

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review 2015-09-17 03:47
Blowback by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Blowback - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Blowback is Book 2 of the Anniversary Day Saga by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  This novel continues into the exploration of the Moon’s Anniversary Day attacks that happened in Book 1 of the saga.  As a result of the attacks, Moon’s Chief Security Officer Noelle DeRicci is trying to hold the remaining vestiges of the government together and learns more  information about the attacks that could crumble everything.


Meanwhile, Retrieval Artist Miles Flint has become displeased with the investigation into the attacks and decides to conduct on his own investigation using contacts from both sides of the law.  What he learns will shock him and begins to realize that the Anniversary Day attacks was just the tip of the iceburg.


As usual, Rusch creates a credible, solid science fiction thriller with plenty twists and turns to keep a reader guessing right to the very end.  However, I see Blowback as more of a transition book in this saga.  It is a solid read but I would suggest that newcomers start with Anniversary Day before reading Blowback.  Recommended.

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review 2015-09-17 03:43
Anniversary Day by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Anniversary Day - Kristine Kathryn Rusch,Jay Snyder

I’m coming up on seventy posted reviews for this website and I’ve written many other reviews on various book social websites like Goodreads, Booklikes, and such. I have noticed there are some books you read and review because of their importance to the literary culture.  There are some books you read and review and that you do not connect with but continue reading them to learn something from that experience.  And there are some books you read and review that puts a smile on your face.


Anniversary Day by Kristine Kathryn Rusch goes into the section of the aforementioned sentence.  This is the eight book that I’ve read and review of the excellent Retrieval Artist Series and the first one of the Anniversary Day Saga.  This first book of the saga focuses on the celebration called Anniversary Day where the moon colony of Armstrong remembers the bomb that destroyed part of the dome protecting it four years ago.


A greater threat is happening on this Anniversary Day observance that not only affects Armstrong but the rest of the Moon.  Moon Security Chief Noelle DeRicci is trying to stay one step of the unfolding disaster.  However, the disaster is bigger than she could have ever imagined.  She enlists Retrieval Artist Miles Flint for help and he learns just how widespread the disaster has become.


The story in Anniversary Day does not revolve around Retrieval Artist Miles Flint.  Moon Security Chief Noelle DeRicci and Detective Bartholomew Nyquist take center stage in Anniversary Day. That might be a disappointment for fans of the series who are attached to Miles Flint (like myself).  However, Rusch is such a skilled storyteller than I have found DeRicci and Nyquist are just as compelling to read as Flint.  I appreciate the fact that the series does not rely one character to carry it for subsequent books.  The diversity of the characters is one of the main reasons I have become an unabashed fan of the series. I hope that other writers in series-length genre fiction can take inspiration from Rusch on this important technique.


It’s hard for this reviewer to be totally objective for each book I post a review for in this series.  It has become the literary version of Mad Men, House of Cards, or Breaking Bad for me.  I have truly looked forward to reading each book in this series and glad to have seven more books of the Anniversary Day Saga to post reviews for.


However, I will admit that I thought the ending (after being built up with great tension) was a let down for me.  I understand why Rusch had to wrap a bow on the ending. But, I wanted at least another 40 or 50 pages of it for selfish reasons.  That is my only quibble with Anniversary Day.  I highly recommended this series and Anniversary Day is an excellent entry point for those of you who are newcomers to the series.

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review 2014-12-03 04:55
The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh
The Pride of Chanur (Alliance-Union Universe) - C.J. Cherryh

I wanted to like The Pride of Chanur, I really did. Science fiction with a heavy emphasis on alien cultures and/or alien linguistics is like catnip to me, and, for that reason, I've wanted to try Cherryh's works for a long time. Unfortunately, her writing style didn't work for me. This is not a long book – the print edition is only a little over 200 pages – and yet I spent more than a month alternately slogging through it or avoiding it.

The story is fairly simple. Pyanfar Chanur is the captain of the hani spaceship The Pride of Chanur. She discovers a stowaway, an odd-looking being she quickly realizes is sentient. He's a human, and none of the aliens in the book have ever seen anything like him before. Pyanfar has him put together a translation tape and eventually learns that his name is Tully and he's an escapee from a kif ship. The kif tortured Tully and his friends, and he was the only one who survived. Pyanfar doesn't like the kif, who are widely known as pirates and slave-traders, so she decides to help Tully. This decision ends up putting The Pride of Chanur, other hani ships, and even the hani homeworld in grave danger.


Okay, so let me get back to Cherryh's writing style, which is so distinctive it got its own section in Cherryh's Wikipedia article. Although the book was written in the third person, it was so tightly focused on Pyanfar's viewpoint that it sometimes felt like it was first person POV. Descriptions of hani characters were limited because, as a hani herself, there were things that Pyanfar simply wouldn't note. The descriptions of Tully made him feel very alien, because to Pyanfar he was – she had to interpret his appearance and behavior through what she knew of her own people and other alien species. For example, his hair and beard looked to her like a short, bedraggled hani mane.

This made for fascinating reading, at first. I don't think I've ever read anything that was written in quite this way, and I loved learning a little about the various aliens and the hani through what was pretty much Pyanfar's eyes (although I later learned I was wrong about some things – for example, I thought the Mahendo'stat looked wolf-like, but they're actually supposed to be more primate-like).

Then Cherryh ramped up the action and adrenaline a bit, and her style suddenly became a lot harder for me to deal with. There was tons of jargon and not much in the way of explanations, since Pyanfar was an experienced captain fighting for her and her crew's life - no time to think about the specifics of whatever maneuver she was executing while trying to escape the kif. I had trouble understanding the specifics of what was going on, although I could at least still follow the general situation. I found myself skimming the book's action scenes, which was a bigger problem once I got closer to the end of the book. I'm still not sure why

the kif left, since I had thought they were winning.

(spoiler show)

That said, I still want to read more of Cherryh's works in general and this series in particular, because there were aspects and ideas I loved, even if the execution didn't work for me. Hani clans (family groups) were fascinating. They were similar to lion prides, with a central male and lots of females. The hani viewed males as being too high-strung and incapable of controlling their emotions to be suitable for long periods of time on a spaceship, so all hani crews were entirely female. Tully being a male made Pyanfar very nervous, and Tully had difficulty wrapping his brain around the idea that all the hani around him were female. Besides the hani, another alien species I'd love to learn more about is the stsho, which have three genders and fragile, changeable personalities.

I also liked, for once, reading science fiction in which the human is not the bestest, cleverest, most secretly wonderful being ever. In fact, I think nearly every species got to display its strengths and weaknesses except humans. Tully was the guy who got the whole story started, but he didn't actually do much besides try really hard not to get killed or turned into a slave. That meant doing exactly what Pyanfar asked him to do, which, for a good chunk of the book, was limited to helping put together a translation tape so that everyone could understand him. By the way, I also liked the way the language stuff was handled – the translation technology wasn't 100% perfect, leading to occasional garbled bits. It felt pretty realistic, even if the “tape” part was somewhat dated.

Like I said, I do want to try another one of Cherryh's books at a later date. I've got Foreigner on my TBR pile, and I'd like to read the next Chanur novel. However, I'm a little worried that, while Cherryh's worlds will be a pleasure, her writing style will make learning about them a chore. Here's hoping her style eventually grows on me.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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