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The Disappeared: A Retrieval Artist novel Paperback – March 1, 2011
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Hugo And World Fantasy Award-Winning Author The acclaimed science fiction-police series that goes where "few authors have thoroughly explored."
Praise for The Disappeared: "An entertaining blend of mystery and SF."
"A very thought-provoking novel that lives up to every expectation we have of Rusch and her considerable talent. Buy and enjoy."
"Achieves a higher purpose: to make us look at the world around us with a new under-standing."
"[Rusch] especially excels in tales of the collision between humor and alien cultures. The Disappeared is a fine example of her skill."
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes in almost every genre. Generally, she uses her real name (Rusch) for most of her writing. Under that name, she publishes bestselling science fiction and fantasy, award-winning mysteries, acclaimed mainstream fiction, controversial nonfiction, and the occasional romance. Her novels have made bestseller lists around the world and her short fiction has appeared in eighteen best of the year collections. She has won more than twenty-five awards for her fiction, including the Hugo, Le Prix Imaginales, the Asimov’s Readers Choice award, and the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice Award. To keep up with everything she does, go to kriswrites.com. To track her many pen names and series, see their individual websites (krisnelscott.com, kristinegrayson.com, krisdelake.com, retrievalartist.com, divingintothewreck.com, fictionriver.com). She lives and occasionally sleeps in Oregon.
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The book shifted over to worthwhile once the MC became the clear focus of the story. Flint turned out to be both very likeable and someone I can respect, especially once he began to make his own choices. His partner also grew on me as she became a more complex and complete person and started to treat Flint as a partner, though she never lost the cynical bitter edge. I'm curious to see what Rusch does with them in the next book in the series, as the plot of this book (though interesting and rather dense) seemed more like an intro to the people and world, especially to Flint. Well written, solid realistic characters, and aliens who are quite unusual. The three different alien races in the book are profoundly disturbing, but the reasons humans clash are mostly cultural, legal and political, rather than the more typical biological imperatives or military battles. Most of the conflict in the book happens within the human heart, as Rusch focusses on suffering caused by the law when the punishments don't seem fair or proportionate with the accused person's crime. Almost everyone in the book is hurting, and a lot of them are struggling to figure out the right thing to do now, after they've already screwed it all up, especially when all the choices seem wrong and will do even more damage. It's not as grim a book as that sounds, though, and ends on a very positive note that helps balance all the negative from the beginning.
The Disappeared is a wonder in world-building on a massive scale, yet does an excellent job of keeping readers from being overwhelmed. Set in an undisclosed future timeframe, humanity has spread to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Most of the action in the novel takes place in Armstrong Dome, which is one of four major cities on the Moon. Miles Flint and his partner, Noelle DeRicci, are called to the scene of a derelict ship that's been towed to the Moon. Aboard the ship are several eviscerated bodies that seem to point to an alien vengeance killing. But what appears to be an open-and-shut case quickly escalates into a conspiracy far larger.
Perhaps what's most unusual about The Disappeared is how little Rusch tries to focus on the science; this novel is very much about the characters and the mystery surrounding the plot. Most science fiction novels work extra hard to describe the background and history of their universes, but Rusch does not--there is no mention of what year the book is set in (hundreds of years in the future, at least), how humanity discovered other races, or how they learned to travel to other planets beyond our solar system. There is so little information about the history of the universe The Disappeared is set in, it actually improves the enjoyment of the story. While readers may be curious about the past, it's not at all important to the events in the novel--at least not in any meaningful way. Still, it's clear that the Retrieval Artist series has a very carefully and well-crafted universe to explore, and fans will reap the benefits in future entries of the series.
The characters in The Disappeared are well-developed, if not fully three-dimensional. The secondary characters have their own pasts, faults, and issues to deal with--in fact, they may be more developed than the main protagonists. Certainly Flint and DeRicci both have their flaws and challenges to overcome, it just seems like some of the changes the characters go through in the novel come about just a little too rapidly. Perhaps the fact that very little of the past is alluded to or described in this novel weakens their development just a bit. It's a minor criticism though, in a book that's difficult to find any faults with.
The alien races that Rusch has brought to life are unique, and, well, alien; it's just what a good science fiction story is supposed to be. The Rev, Wygnin, and Disty cultures appear to be very odd, at least in human terms. Again, the lack of a backstory here provides both intrigue, and provides subtle frustrations--readers will want to know much, much more about these races, but will learn little in the pages of The Disappeared. Hopefully, future installments in the series will shed more light on not only these alien beings, but their tumultuous history with Humans.
What's most astounding about this novel is how accessible it is. This is not some futuristic utopian--or dystopian, for that matter--novel hell-bent on destroying the Establishment. The Disappeared is a mystery first, with a science fictional world wrapped around it. The technology utilized hasn't seemed to advance much farther than that we own today--quite the opposite, in some circumstances. Sure, there are flying cars, spaceships, and cities on the Moon, but at times, readers will be hard pressed to believe they're not on Earth, in some typical city in North America.
The Disappeared is not the world's greatest detective novel--far from it, in fact. It is, however, an excellent science fiction novel that's very much a detective-story. It is certainly well worth the read, if for nothing other than the amazing universe that Rusch has created. With many other novels in the series, it's an excellent entry to the Retrieval Artist saga for any reader.