on February 26, 2008
Up front, lest I be accused of hiding it, I know Ann Aguirre. I happen to think she's fabulous and I talk to her pretty much daily via IM. I also happen to think she's a really gifted writer and I've thought so before I IM'd her all the time.
Anyway - Ann kindly sent me an early peek at Grimspace some months back and when I read it, it blew me away. It's one of those books what you look at and think, first person? Present tense? But it works. It conveys a sense of urgency, of breathlessness but every once in while it slows, tensing, making that pause sort of delicious before speeding up again. Aguirre's words are sharp and tensile and some of the passages are so gorgeous in their description that even alone they'd make Grimspace an above average read.
But there's more of course by way of a story well matched to the breathless manner in which Aguirre delivers it to the reader.
The first time in the book when Jax sits in her chair and she's describing how grimspace is indescrible? I was there. Aguirre leads me through as Jax prepares and then jumps. I'm now jumped into the book and the journey begins. I love science fiction and futuristics and I read across sub genres and authors but I tend toward the edgy sort of delivery you see with Gibson and Morgan and Grimspace has that. It's lush in places but the pace keeps it stark at the same time. I loved the action element as well as the romantic storyline. March is as well drawn as Jax, even through Jax's eyes and they're well matched on the page. There's a lot to March but he's like an iceburg character - much of what he is is below the surface and so we learn it slowly but surely.
There's something deliciously flawed in Sirantha Jax. Deeply wounded. Prickly, bitchy at times, defensive and guilt ridden. But you know why. You're in her head, no one holds her more accountable than she does herself. But there's a resilience in her. She tells herself she doesn't need anyone else but she does. She tells herself not to take a risk in reaching out but she does. I just really liked her.
Anyway, as you can tell, I dug Grimspace. I think it's a great mixture of action, emotion, romance with some startlingly wonderful and memorable characters.
Sirantha Jax is a jumper, an individual with a rare gene that allows her to access GRIMSPACE and therefore speed up space travel. She finds herself trapped in a psych unit cell, accused of somehow killing the entire crew of her last assigned ship. Everyone... including her pilot, lover, and friend, Kai. The bond between pilot and jumper is sacrosanct and Sirantha can't fathom how or why she would have caused such a crash. Unfortunately, she can't remember what went wrong. A man named March enters her cell and offers to rescue her. But what does he want in return? What will be the costs of this rescue?
Sirantha Jax is a great leading character. Her heart and motivations are fully bared for the reader to see her, faults and all. Who can't help but love her prickly attitude, her unwillingness to give up even when all common sense says it's over? Only a woman like Sirantha Jax could have survived that initial crash and the resulting imprisonment afterwards. It is a pleasure to read about such a strong female heroine.
GRIMSPACE is written entirely in the present tense. I had thought this would be distracting but instead it drew me further into the story. It was as if I was right there in the moment as each event occurred. Bravo, Ms. Aguirre for such a daring move!
Ann Aguirre does a phenomenal job at world building, creating several different worlds as Sirantha and March jump through GRIMSPACE. GRIMSPACE itself is well described as is each world they encounter. The details aren't so descriptive as to lose the momentum of the story but instead enhance the fast pace. Who didn't shiver when reading about the Teras or want to meet and cuddle with Baby Z? Ann Aguirre made the various worlds and their inhabitants spring to life.
GRIMSPACE is a fantastic entry into the science fiction genre. Ann Aguirre captures the nobleness of sacrifice beautifully. GRIMSPACE is highly recommended, even for those who aren't as thrilled by the science fiction genre as Ann Aguirre writes a story in which the emotional impact transcends the genre.
COURTESY OF CK2S KWIPS AND KRITIQUES
Grimspace is a fun, enjoyable space opera with some gritty, likeable, but flawed characters.
The protagonist, Sirantha Jax, is a jumper. She has a rare gene that allows her to navigate in Grimspace - which is essentially wormholes that can move spaceships massive distances in one jump. The story starts with her accused, and actually believing, that she somehow intentionally caused a crash that killed her entire crew plus ambassadors and other dignitaries. She is confined to a mental ward wondering what happened, and why, when along comes March who either abducts her or rescues her - at the time she is not sure which. March is part of a underground group trying to break the monopoly on traveling through Grimspace from the Farwan Corporation, which turns out to be a multiuniversal (as opposed to multinational) corporation that essentially operates as the government of a very large segment of habitable space - and is able to do so because it controls all movement in Grimspace. Jax is a key to breaking this monopoly because March's group is trying to replicate the gene, possibly even in non-human sentient species, that allows pilots to navigate through Grimspace. Once Jax escapes, the wild chase is on while the Corp tries to hunt her down and March's group is trying to evade the Corp and carry out their plans to break the Corp's monopoly on Grimspace.
There is a lot to like about this novel. First, Sirantha Jax is a great character, as are March and the rest of his group. They are well thought out characters with both commendable traits but serious flaws as well. Second, it is a fairly fast paced novel with a good plot, lots of action, and interesting interactions between the characters. Third, the author also does a good job of world building, providing the backdrop in which the novel takes place. And finally, the few alien species introduced in the novel are unique and interesting.
A few things I didn't care for in the novel - in one section Sirantha, March and crew enter a sector of space called Hon-Durren's Kingdom, which is outside the control of the Corp. Hon is essentially a pirate and a very nefarious character, but he is also very much a caricature and not unique or different than any other villain I've read in novels such as this or seen in movies. As well as the other characters in the novel are done, this was a little jarring. Secondly, while I didn't mind it all that much, the ending was a real fast bang, slam we're done with many things happening at once. It almost seemed like the author got tired of writing the novel and dumped the ending on the reader. But at the same time, the ending made sense and well done otherwise. And finally, while it does mostly move fast, the action dragged in small parts.
So, overall I liked this novel, but didn't love it. But if I see a sequel or another story by this author, I will definitely read it.
on March 8, 2008
I thought this book was just ok. The author did do a good job of handling the present-tense writing style, though the present tense also allowed her to cop out on some of the building blocks that are usually required for a good setup and background.
This book was more relationship/romance than science-fiction, and the science wasn't very convincing - more like current technology plus space ships and a couple of gadgets. Random alien races would appear, and since the book was in present-tense, they didn't really get explained, just accepted and we moved on. Our heroine also seemed singularly out of touch with even extremely high profile world/universe events that had occurred during her lifetime. Overall, the book was a chaotic series of vignettes with no solid base to rest on. It was interesting for that, but I don't think I'll be buying the next one.
on May 7, 2008
"Grimspace" is a sci-fi novel, centering on J--. J-- is the "eyes" for a spaceship, a job requiring rare genetics, a small amount of training, and mind-to-mind contact with the pilot. She starts the novel in jail, accused of crashing a spaceship (massive casualties). A closed-mouthed group breaks her out of jail, and brings her to their compound. They have a bold plan, and need J--'s expertise to make it work. This fast-paced journey (about 1/3 of the book) includes lots of combat and unexpected troubles.
J-- swears constantly and has the steriotypical personality of someone who swears that much: poor education, impulsive, poor interpersonal skills. The universe has some creative ideas, but is riddled with are a whole bunch of things that make no sense. For example, the genetic makeup for J--'s job are rare, and the job usually fatal in 10 years, so they ... recruit teenagers ... before they have families ... to make sure the rare genetics aren't passed on to any kids. Hunh? Also, we are told repeatedly that J--'s previous job included first-contact with aliens, because she has good people-skills, yet her actions in the book at no time exhibit even a basic knowledge of how to make friends. Not to mention, first-contact is obviously high-risk, and if she got killed, everyone on the spaceship would be stranded there forever. On those contradictions, I suggest you suspend disbelief. The action is fast paced and reasonably exciting. The writing quality is pretty good.
My problem with this novel is that everyone, EVERYONE, is unlikeable. The people who rescue J-- blame her for every bad event that occurs in the first 1/3 of the book, despite her having no fault whatsoever in any of them. They are the "bite your nose off to spite your face" sort who don't warn J-- about the obvious dangers inherent to their homeland, and then blame her (???) when her ignorant actions help to attract a monster (who would have attacked anyway, due to their actions). Everyone we meet is nasy and hostile: to J-- and to each other. About 2/3 of the way through the book, one person says something nice to J--; she is stunned and so was I. After about 1/3 of the book, I decided that if J-- and everyone else was killed off, I wouldn't care.
on August 22, 2012
Words really can't describe how much I loved GRIMSPACE and the rest of this series. Not since Moning's Fever series have I been this captivated by a set of novels. It helps that there are five books out of six already published, with the final releasing this month, so no waiting. But what really makes this series so magnificent is the characters, the thrilling plots, and the beautiful, thought provoking themes.
QUOTE: "There are prisons without bars and worlds without sunlight. I didn't know about either one until I joined the Corp."
Sirantha Jax is imprisoned for a crime she does not remember committing. She's a decorated Corp navigator, and the last thing she remembers is piloting a ship full of diplomats and dignitaries to a summit on Mantins IV. She's told she made mistakes, ignored direct orders, and her actions precipitated a crash that took the lives of eighty-two souls including the man she loved. Now she is incarcerated in a Corp prison, subject to brutal interrogation techniques, forced to relive that day over and over again. What she remembers of it anyway - staring the final approach on the planet, a kiss for luck, and then nothing but a big red hole in her brain until she wakes pinned in the wreck, assaulted by the smell of burning flesh, and the cries of the dying. It took them days to rescue her. Now she's incarcerated, injured, worn down by grief, and slowly losing her grip on sanity.
She's nearing a mental break when help arrives from an expected quarter. An ex-merc and his team break into the station where she's held captive and offer her a devils bargain. They'll free her if she agrees to join their rebellion and work against her former employers. Her decision makes her a fugitive, public enemy #1, and starts a chain of events that change everything for Jax and the universe.
The world building in GRIMSPACE is fantastic. The universe is vast, with thousands of planets, each with their own society and culture. The plot is rich, intricate, and exciting. Sirantha's journey takes her to Lachion, the heart of the rebellion, where she's hunted by invisible monsters; to the swamp world of Marakeq; to the pirate kingdom of Hon-Durren where she is held captive; to Gehenna where she faces her shadows; and finally to New Terra where everything falls apart. This story is crammed full of action with nary a dull moment to be found, yet somehow in the midst of the whirlwind of events surround Jax, Ann still manages to make this a character driven story. Jax, March, Dina, and Doc are the real focus of GRIMSPACE. Each character is complex, with unique history, issues, and goals. Each of them grows through the story.
QUOTE: "The Gunnars look like killers, all of them. Big men, hard-eyed, well geared, and ready to throw down. That's fine. So am I. I'm Sirantha Jax, and I have had enough."
Sirthantha is exactly the kind of heroine I love. She is strong, makes her own decisions, and fights her own battles. She's not afraid to throw a punch, but generally only does so for the right reasons. She was a selfish individual in the past, but that person died on Mantins IV. What emerged from the ashes of that crash was a different woman, broken, but determined to atone for the blood on her hands. She's given a cause, and people that depend on her. She finally finds something that matters more than the next jump, or looking out for her own skin.
QUOTE: "March. I feel as though someone punched me in the chest. He believes I'm dead, or he wouldn't be doing this. It's vengeance now--he doesn't see a way for us to win. In his own eyes, he failed me, failed Mair, so this is the only thing left. Even though he told me his gift kills the soul, though I glimpsed the darkness in him, because he always tried so hard to do the right thing, I didn't realize the truth, the scope. I rise to my knees, gazing into darkness. He would kill the world for me. I have to save him."
Jax's savior, March is the ultimate tortured hero. He's the reason I purchased this book in the first place. A reviewer I respect likened him onto Barrons, and that's all it took for me. After reading this book, I'd say I agree with her assessment. He is just as fierce and indomitable as Barrons, but more compassionate. I fell in love with him. He's a psy of extraordinary strength. He can hear the thoughts of others or use his powers to psychically crush their minds. In his past he used his gift in war, to break his opponents. He was a force to be reckoned with, but his power came at a terrible cost to his soul. He was a monster until an old woman turned his life around. Now he seeks redemption. His life is dedicated to atoning for his past. He is a champion of lost causes, and a protector of the weak. He's fiercely loyal, honorable to a fault, he does the right thing. Always. No matter the cost.
QUOTE: "We're both so broken that I understand our strange attraction, a push-pull magnetism born of similar scars."
When March rescues Jax, there is little love lost between them. The crash on Mantins IV took the life of someone March loved, and he blames Sirantha. But when his pilot is killed, he's forced to jump with her. Part of the interface that allows pilots and navigators to work together in grimspace ties them together psychically. For the duration of the jump, they live in each other's minds. March's gift enhances this connection tenfold. In grimspace he and Jax discover just how similar they are in spirit, and begin to form a bond that goes deeper than love.
QUOTE: "'You think it didn't cut me every time you thought of him?' His jaw clenches. `You think I didn't bleed when you left my bed to scrub away my touch and deify his memory? You think it didn't hurt when you left me? Jax, you've been slicing me to bits for months, and there's damn near nothing left.'"
I've always enjoyed the science fiction genre, but, let's face it, most of these books are written by men. One of the things I loved so much about GRIMSPACE was that it's written by a woman, and as such, this story has an amazing romance. The raw passion and fierce love between Jax and March is a one of the sexiest things I've seen in fiction in a long time. I'd read this book again just for that romance, but there is so much more to the story. The world building is top notch. The characters are heroic, flawed, and written so realistically they feel like friends. The story is fast paced and exciting. The language is beautiful. The themes are poignant.
This is a story about finding healing, seeking redemption, fighting for the greater good. It is full of wisdom and weighty revelations. There are series that come along that touch you in such a profound way, you feel changed by them. This was one of those series for me. I really cannot recommend it highly enough.
QUOTE: "There's a lesson in that, I think. No matter how interminable something feels, there is always, always an ending. Sometimes that's good, and sometimes it's bad; sometimes it's a matter of indifference, and sometimes it's heartbreaking, and your life is never the same thereafter."
DISCLAIMER: This is a science fiction novel, and that means there's a lot of world building and technical terms. Nothing too confusing, but if you loathe sci-fi or get bored in stories with complex world building, then this probably isn't the book for you.
Ann Aguirre has taken a book like Grimspace and made it a masterpiece of Sci-fi literature. If you are a fan of space travel, Star Wars like action and a heroine who is very original and simply an amazing character overall, I urge you to pick up Grimspace. It might just be one of the best reads of 2008 and the character for Jax, Aguirre's heroine will be talked about for a long time.
Sirantha Jax has a special gene that lets her jump thought space and time. The first page introduces us to her as she is in jail responsible for killing her captain and all the passengers on her ship. She has no clue what has happened and thinks she has no way out and will probably be dead in a few days.
But a savior comes to her. His name is March and he needs her help. She has no other option and goes off with him even though he may want to kill her after he is done with her. Jax is now on another perilous journey where she is to out of the loop, on the run from the law and no one to trust. As she jumps, she puts her total trust in March who is not what he seems.
Linnea Sinclair fans will also want to jump on the Ann Aguirre bandwagon. And if you have read Sinclair's books in the past, well you know what Aguirre's Grimspace will be like. It is everything you want in a book in general. I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering if Jax will come out alive. Plus, there is a nice romance between her and March that shouldn't disappoint.
This is the first book in this new on-going series. Hands down a most excellent book and once of the best for the year 2008.
Welcome to a new author who has written an edgy and exciting space travel book, and of course a great unfinished romance.
on November 14, 2010
The back of the book sounded interesting and I'm a big fan of space opera but this one didn't work for me. It wasn't that it was horribly written, it just wasn't what I was expecting. The main problem I had was that the ratio of romance to action was about 70:30. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the occasional romantic subplot, but not when it feels like the romance overrides the story. It also may have something to do with the somewhat misleading blurb on the back of the book. A little warning would have been nice. It reminded me of Urban Fantasy since alot of the books in that genre have a very strong romantic element. If you enjoy Urban Fantasy and you want to take the leap to more space oriented sci-fi, then I would definitely recommend this for you. If you like your space opera to have more action than anything, you may want to try something else (see Tanya Huff's Valor's Choice - strong female character, plenty of action). There were a few instances where the character kicked butt, but they were rare occasions. I can see why other people may enjoy this, but I didn't enjoy it enough to want to read the rest of the series.
on February 26, 2008
Thanks to carrying a rare J-gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to pilot ships through grimspace, an essential and valuable talent in the days of space travel. However, it only takes one failure and being the only one to survive it to land her in jail, subjected to torture on multiple levels. Her ticket out comes when an idealistic group busts her free and she finds herself pressed into service for them. Yet, gradually, Jax finds her place among the rag-tag family, even discovering love. There is risk, though. With each jump, she edges closer to burning out, to dying. Jax has to make some tough choices about her future, ones that will affect more than her for the first time in her life.
**** Fans of Anne McCaffrey's space sagas, or to some extent, her Crystal Singer books, will want this as part of their library. The world-building process has meticulously created a plausible galaxy that explains itself as it goes along. Discovering more about the ensemble cast that Jax is the lead player for should prove fascinating, especially with regards to the enigmatic Doc. ****
Amanda Killgore for Huntress Reviews
on May 9, 2008
Sirantha Jax is in love with the sound of her own name, repeating it over and over again, while narrating her angry bumbling story in an obnoxious first-person present-tense style. Beyond the main character's narcissism, she's an arrogant, mean, foul-mouthed, small-minded, jerk, truly one of the most unlikable main characters I've encountered in quite some time. I imagine she's supposed to come off as headstrong and self-confident, but she's dumb and angry, not a good combination.
Other characters include March, a psionic peeping tom; Dina, the token minority, complete with bad attitude and short-sightedness; Saul, the near non-entity doctor; and Loras, a useless waste of space. There isn't a single person in this book who is likable in any way that has any significance in the story.
As for the story itself, there's not much to it either. There are women who have some gene, allowing them to navigate hyperspace. No explanation as to why seems to come up, it just is. Men are pilots. A lot of sex takes place between them. That's the way it is, until the women fizzle out and die in jump. Okay. The rest involves Sirantha Jax and the above mentioned characters attempting to start their own stable of Special Women Who Have Some Gene, in order to break up an interstellar monopoly on jump travel. Add to that swearing, petty meanness, Sirantha Jax, poor descriptions, a deceptively good ship disguised as a beater, Sirantha Jax, a universe that doesn't add up to something capable of functioning, frog babies, Sirantha Jax, and Sirantha Jax, you're left with a nasty taste in your mouth. It would have been best if Sirantha Jax just stayed in the loonie bin to save the world at large from Sirantha Jax.