This is the next section of favourite space-faring tales. Again, in no particular order…
Sirantha Jax series by Ann Aguirre
As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace — a talent that cuts into her life expectancy but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. But then the ship she’s navigating crash-lands, and she’s accused of killing everyone on board. It’s hard for Jax to defend herself: she has no memory of the crash…
Aguirre’s depiction of a space jumper apart from the general run of humanity, with her own closed ethos and set of rules suddenly bumping up against a group of people with differing attitudes, works well. Jax’s ability to alienate everyone around her is impressive, but as the book and its sequel, Wanderlust, progresses, she is forced to reassess her priorities and attitudes. I think this is one of the undoubted strengths of this sub-genre – offer up a heroine in the middle of a major crisis, present her with yet more life-changing problems – and then watch her change. See my review of Grimspace here.
Vatta’s War series by Elizabeth Moon
Kylara Vatta is the only daughter in a family full of sons, and her father’s only child to buck tradition by choosing a military career instead of joining the family business. For Ky, it’s no contest: Even running the prestigious Vatta Transport Ltd. shipping concern can’t hold a candle to shipping out as an officer aboard an interstellar cruiser. It’s adventure, not commerce, that stirs her soul. And despite her family’s misgivings, there can be no doubt that a Vatta in the service will prove a valuable asset. But with a single error in judgment, it all comes crumbling down.
I love this entertaining five-book series about a merchantile family under attack – and their gritted struggle to survive. My strong advice is to read them in the right order as you’ll gain the best from the Vatta clan’s roller-coaster ride between triumph and disaster, starting with Trading in Danger.
Horizons by Mary Rosenblum
Ahni Huang is hunting for her brother’s killer. As a Class 9 Empath with advanced biogenetic augmentations, she has complete mental and physical control of her body and can read other people’s intentions before they can even think them. Faced with deceptions behind deceptions, Ahni is caught in a dangerous game of family politics—and in the middle of it all lies the fate of her brother. Her search leads to the Platforms, which orbit high above Earth. On the Platform New York Up, ‘upsider’ life is different. They have their own culture, values and ambitions – and now they want their independence from Earth. One upsider leader, Dane Nilsson, is determined to accomplish NYUp’s secession, but he has a secret, one that, once exposed, could condemn him to death. When Ahni stumbles upon Dane during her quest for vengeance, her destiny becomes inextricably linked to his. Together they must delve beyond the intrigue and manipulative schemes to get to the core of truth, a truth that will shape the future of the Platforms and shatter any preconceived notions of what defines the human race.
All the best science fiction, in my opinion, gives us some believable insights into some of the dilemmas that future technology will pose for our descendants. In this stand-alone book, Rosenblum shines a light on some of the problems that are starting to loom uncomfortably close – such as genetic manipulation; cloning; what defines humanity and the faultlines along which humankind will divide. See my review of Horizons here.
The Jon and Lobo series by Mark L. van Name
This duology of the first two books, One Jump Ahead and Slanted Jack, in the popular Jon and Lobo series was released by Baen in a smart marketing move.
Jon Moore: A nanotech enhanced wanderer who wants nothing more than a quiet life and a way back to his strange home world. Lobo: An incredibly intelligent machine equipped for any environment from the sea to interstellar space. Two battle-scarred veterans unwilling to tolerate injustice. Together in a collection that not only includes the first two novels, but also two short stories giving some of the backstory to the two protagonists and an interestingly frank foreword and afterword by the author.
I very much enjoyed the unfolding relationship between Jon and Lobo. In One Jump Ahead, Jon meets Lobo for the first time and they work together. Jon’s enhancements have forced him to be constantly careful how he interacts with other people, as his greatest fear is finding himself locked up by some large corporation and treated like a labrat as they discover exactly how he came by his unique abilities. One of the consequences of these enhancements is his ability to communicate directly with the machines around him – including, of course, Lobo, his intelligent battleship. Lobo’s constant frustration with Jon’s micro-managing temperament creates a nicely sharp relationship between the two of them, which gradually deepens into trust and genuine affection – from Jon’s side, anyway. We can only guess at what Lobo really thinks… Read my review of Jump Twist Gate here.
The Seafort Saga by David Feintuch
I thoroughly enjoyed this seven-book series that Feintuch freely admitted was inspired by C.S. Forester’s Hornblower naval adventures. It all kicks off with the first book, Midshipman’s Hope…
A hideous accident kills the senior officer of UNS Hibernia, leaving a terrified young officer to take 300 colonists and crew aboard a damaged ship, on a 17-month gauntlet to reach Hope Nation. With no chance of rescue, Nicholas Seafort must save lives and take them, in the name of duty.
And so we first encounter the young man, whose space career is charted by a series of adventures, including marauding aliens. Great fun!
Are there any series or standalone books you would like to add to my list?