Tag Archives: colony world

Review of Empire of Dust – Book 1 of the Psi-Tech novels by Jacey Bedford

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I have heard Jacey Bedford speak on a number of panels at various Fantasycons over the years and a couple of years ago, she did an inspirational workshop about submissions that helped me overcome my block about sending work out. So when I had a few pennies for my birthday, I ordered this science fiction offering. I’m so glad I did.

Mega corporations, more powerful than any one planetary government, use their agents to race each other for resources across the galaxy. The agents, or psi-techs, are implanted with telepath technology. The psi-techs are bound to the mega-corps — that is, if they want to retain their sanity. Cara Carlinni is an impossible thing – a runaway psi-tech. She knows Alphacorp can find its implant-augmented telepaths, anywhere, anytime, mind-to-mind. So even though it’s driving her half-crazy, she’s powered down and has been surviving on tranqs and willpower. So far, so good. It’s been almost a year, and her mind is still her own. So far…

I really loved Cara – she is desperate and frightened when we first meet her. Clearly used to dealing with the sleazier side of life, she doesn’t hesitate to sleep with Ben, the pilot who offers to take her off-planet, thinking it’s part of the deal. But over the length of the book, which includes chases, murders and helping establish a colony on a new world, Cara begins to find herself again. Bedford effectively depicts a woman struggling to put an abusive past behind her and build a new life for herself – and I really enjoyed the fact that it certainly isn’t all plain sailing just because she finds someone who cares for her.

I’m aware I may have given the impression this book is all about the romance, and while it is an element, it certainly isn’t the driving force or main theme of the book, which is far more mainstream epic space opera – that of corruption and the ruthlessness of big corporations. Once again, we have a future where it is huge capitalist corporations driving colonisation of planets. Inevitably, it comes down to profit – and you won’t be surprised to learn that when eye-watering sums of money are involved, the people running those corporations regard those in the way as expendable. It doesn’t help that they are a poorly regarded, eccentric cult with relatively few resources…

I loved the growing friction between the team of experts all with brain implants to boost their telepathic, empathetic and healing talents and the colonists who wish to establish an agrarian idyll where technology is replaced by horse and bullock power and industry is severely restricted. Bedford is very good at keeping the pace going with a series of adventures that keep the narrative ticking along at a fair clip, all the while steadily ramping up the stakes. While I love this genre, all too often I find the characterisation suffers in the middle of establishing all the world-spanning action – but it is the characters and what happens to them that is firmly at the heart of this one, which leads to an action-packed finale.

All in all, this is a cracking read and I shall be looking out for the next one in the series, just as soon as I manage to find some space on my bulging book shelves. Highly recommended for fans of entertaining epic space opera.
9/10

ANNDDD…

As part of the blog tour for Running Out of Space, Pippa Jay has interviewed me about stuff about me, writing the book and life in general…

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Friday Faceoff – As Old As the Hills…

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week’s theme is mountains and hills, so I have selected C.J. Cherryh’s first book in her cracking Finisterre duology, Rider at the Gate.

rideratthegateThis is the cover produced by Aspect in September 1996. It certainly gives a sense of the bitterly cold weather and mountainous, challenging landscape. I also love the pink sky, but the great clunky chunks of purple with the raised title and author name do detract from the overall look of the cover, I think.

rideratthegate1

This hardcover edition was published by Aspect in August 1995. While I think the figures are depicted with plenty of drama and movement, once more the title crashes through the artwork and mood.

rideratthegate2This offering, published by Hodder & Stoughton in January is another view of the first snowscape. While the title and author’s name is prominent, at least it doesn’t completely swamp the artwork and mood music. I love the colouring, and this cover is my favourite, despite the poor quality of the reproduction.

rideratthegate3This cover is for the January 1995 edition, published in Franced J’ai Lu. And what a difference a sympathetic font makes… Suddenly the arresting picture on the front is able to bounce off the cover and shout ‘Buy me – I’m a wonderful story!’. Which, indeed it is. Which of these covers is your favourite?