walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

sf, female protagonist: new Kris Longknife, Jani Kilian

Kristine Smith, _Endgame_ is the latest (last?) Jani Kilian novel. I've had some issues with these right from the beginning. A few years ago I was complaining (as is my wont) about the scarcity of sf with strong female protagonists who kick butt. Smith was recommended to me (as, I think, were the Company novels by Kage Baker, which I have a couple of and still haven't read, and A. will now probably say, hey! Read 'em. You'll love 'em!).

Some familiar stuff: alien species, human politics, alien politics, human-alien politics. Some unfamiliar stuff: documents examiners. Some familiar stuff trying to look alien: caste system, alien religion. Struggles between home worlds and colony worlds. Whatever.

My issues with the series for most of it revolved around what I believe to be an eating disorder. There's a great, plot driven reason: Kilian has been hybridized with alien tissue and is becoming something not-quite human, but not idomeni, either. Finding foods that she can eat, wants to eat and nourish her is tricky, and she needs to come out of hiding and get some medical help. In the meantime, she keeps getting skinnier. Then she gets help, finishes the process of hybridzing and winds up even taller and thinner. You can see where I'm going with this. Also, whenever stressed, she skips meals. Generally when other people are eating, she's drinking water.

A few books in, when she hooked up with Nema/Tsecha and Thalassa was founded and those knife fights started, I got to wondering if maybe the eating disorder was being replaced with something else. Sure enough, in this book, in addition to nearly dying in a knife fight, at the climax of the novel there's a little ritual that, let's just say, involves a lot of spectacular self-cutting. And her medical team helps her make sure those cuts scar since they are now Symbolic and Ritualized and Religious and oh, did I mention the millions of people watching in person, and even more over various networks.

Yah, right. Fun books. Suspenseful. Interesting. Well-written. Memorable characters. A couple of disturbing themes, but hey, that's okay.

The latest Kris Longknife: Audacious by Mike Shepherd sends Kris and the crew (Abby, Jack) to (New) Eden. Supposedly a safe place where there won't be someone trying to kill her, the first page has Jack and Kris in the middle of a firefight in the street. I wondered if it was maybe a training exercise, but no. News media don't cover the event (altho they have a lovely cover story to explain the damaged fire hydrant and so forth) and Nellie is hard pressed to get any information about anything, between the jamming and the difficulty of accessing data on Eden. Once again, she's been sent into the middle of a catastrophe and expected to someone make stuff happen to make it better/different/whatever. And as usual, it involves Peterwalds, this time Vicky/Victoria (since her Dear Brother is dead). I had high hopes for Vicky, but she's just a crazy cardboard cutout. We get a lot of Abby's backstory, however. She's from New Eden, and while on-planet, decided to track down Mama and Sis and discovers she has a niece, who has a boyfriend. And they're all in the thick of it, whatever it is.

Lots of fun, with an amazingly glaring error (3 mile run referenced as an hour. That's would be, NOT a run.), the usual slangy writing style and Kris finally growing up enough to pick her own job at the end of the book. Looking forward to more from Shepherd.
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