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Steven H. Wilson has interviewed Jonathan Frakes for Starlog magazine, written for DC Comics Star Trek classic and Warlord series, and, most recently, served as principal writer and director for Prometheus Radio Theatre and publisher of Firebringer Press. His original science fiction series, The Arbiter Chronicles, currently boasting seventeen full-cast audio dramas and the novels Taken Liberty and Unfriendly Persuasion, has won the Mark Time Silver Award and the Parsec Award for Best Audio Drama (long form). Active in science fiction fandom since 1984, he has written, drawn, edited and published fanzines, acted and directed with a comedy troupe, and served as a gopher, a con chair or a guest at roughly a hundred conventions. Wilson, who serves as IT manager for Howard County (Maryland) Fire & Rescue, holds degrees from the University of Maryland College of Journalism and the Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering.
"Taken Liberty" is the impressive and thoroughly enjoyable first novel by author Steve Wilson. In a style reminiscent of early Heinlein, it blends technology and characterization in a fascinating story that tackles such diverse themes as sexuality, spirituality, genetic manipulation, slavery and bigotry in a novel with characters it's a pleasure to get to know.
The central protagonist, a girl barely out of her teens, was raised as a sexual predator and pleasure slave on a planet where such practices are allowed and which are overlooked by the more enlightened races in the galaxy. She managed to escape, joined the intergalactic navy, and has risen to a position of authority on the fleet's flagship, Titan. When her past is uncovered, she and her friends and the ship's captain must prevent her from being returned to her homeworld and captivity. The characters are richly drawn and finely developed and include a not-so-androgynous telepath, a much-maligned Terran, and a Wiccan doctor who heals the soul as well as the body.
While this is a first novel, the author is no "stranger in a strange land." He is the latest product from that great training school of fan fiction, and he has also written about 13 radio plays which feature the same set of characters put forth in this novel. Some of the plays have been recorded on CD (available from the author) or performed as podcasts or at conventions as productions of Prometheus Radio Theatre. Familiarity with the earlier works is not essential, however, to enoying this novel.
While many of the characters are young, this is definitely not a book for children. The writing is sexually explicit and the themes are mature and profound. It's an admixture of social commentary, philosphy, and technology, which is what all good science fiction should be.
I look forward to more from this author, and predict that he has a bright future
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I actually stumbled across a sample chapter from this book on the author's web page while I was searching the web for something else entirely. I glanced at it, started to read it, finished the chapter, and found I was hooked. I had to buy the book. I wasn't disappointed. Money well spent! I'm looking forward to reading more of this author's work in the future.
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