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The City Who Fought Hardcover – September 1, 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
This space adventure further develops McCaffrey's vivid future universe of diversified cultures, technological wonders and twisted, sometimes corrupt, politics. Space Station SSS-900C, a profitable but out-of-the-way trading and mining center, is attacked by Kolnari, pirates from a planet of sociopathic exiles. While awaiting the arrival of the Central Worlds' Navy, the inhabitants play for time with a major deception planned by Simeon, the shellperson operating the station, whose hobby is the study of early warfare, including guerrilla tactics. (Shellpeople, damaged while young by accident or birth defect and encased in life-support systems, are wired into and control sophisticated technology such as space stations, cities and spaceships, while maintaining their own personalities and emotions.) Central to the scheme is obedience to all the Kolnari's demands while keeping secret the fact of Simeon's existence, since if the Kolnari gained control of the technically sophisticated shellperson they would have an intolerable advantage. As Simeon clandestinely builds his trap for the Kolnari, he wistfully watches and encourages a love affair between Channa Hap, the woman he loves and cannot have, and a noble refugee. McCaffrey (The Dragonriders of Pern series, The Ship Who Sang ) and Stirling (the Draka series) create vivid heroes and villains in a complex and deadly game.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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I enjoy most of McCaffrey's books as they are easy reads and the characters can be empathised with. This one was co-authored by S.M. Sterling, another good name in the sci fi field to look for. A great combination of dramatic character building and military history/science. It has a follow up book: "The Ship Avenged". I've ordered and recieved the second book but haven't read it yet so the review is pending. Overall, great book to kill an afternoon or two.
As the story opens Simeon has been running a remote space station servicing various mining colonies located at the fringes of Central Worlds. Simeon is upset because his long time 'brawn', the able bodied partner that each shell person relies on handle those tasks they cannot has finally retired, much to Simeon's displeasure. Central Worlds has managed to find a candidate that meets Simeon's rather extensive list of requirements much to the displeasure of both Simeon and Channa, the brawn in question. The one thing the pair could agree on is that while they were stuck with one another for the short term, they definitely needed the term to be as short as possible. Unknown to them however, events were conspiring to keep them together.
In an even more remote area vicious raiders had laid waste to a long forgotten colony of religious zealots. The original colonists had fled Central Worlds' decadent society with it's many races, machines and other abominations to follow their own beliefs. A small group of colonists has managed to escape from their ravaged world, heading for Central Worlds' protection, unfortunately with the raiders in close pursuit. When they arrive at the nearest outpost, Simeon's unarmed station, it takes the combined forces of Simeon, Channa and an orphaned child to defend the station and it's inhabitants.
Some of the entries in this series are young adult fare and the plot outline of this one could suggest that this one would be as well, however it most definitely is not. There are many scenes and plot themes here that are of an adult nature, including incest, rape, graphic violence and child abuse.
It is a well written, interesting story in this long running series, one that introduces characters that will return in later volumes as well as referring to characters introduced earlier. It would not be absolutely necessary to have read any earlier volumes in this series to enjoy this one. After reading this one most readers will probably be looking for more stories from this series.
If you aren't familiar with the series, start with "The Ship Who Sang" and enjoy the ride! The premise of the series is that infants who have too many physical birth defects to survive, but have intelligence unaffected by their unfortunate births are cherished and grow as "shell persons" they live encapsulated in life support which also connects their brains to a web of databanks, computers, and to spaceships or cities. This makes them superhuman, but still very human.
In this book Simeon, a city-bound shell person, is attacked by hostiles while also breaking his a new partner ("Brawn").
The story is rich in it's supporting characters, villians, children, victims, and heroes! If you've read any of the brainship books, you need to read this one, it is one of the very best.