Science fiction and fantasy
by Maxine McArthur
No-one knows what the Seouras want, or whether the Confederacy are going to come to their aid. Then a ship arrives, setting off a jump mine which kills all but three of its passengers, humans travelling in cryostasis. Oddly, it appears to have departed before humans knew of the existence of jump technology. It was bound for Alpha Centauri, but overshot its intended course by 50 years. Whilst Halley is tackling these mysteries, a trader is murdered by an alien creature believed to be extinct.
Halley is not your usual heroine. Small, greying and tired, she's an engineer by trade. She accepted the job as head of station after the resignation or untimely deaths of her predecessors. She's not in it for the glory, and her main asset is a steely determination to keep the station safe and everyone alive.
The politics and intrigue between the various alien races make for a complex mystery. The aliens are not merely humans with slight facial differences, they often breathe different atmospheres as well as looking and thinking in wholly different ways. It's space opera of the best kind, thrilling and ingenious at the same time. The plot thickens when Halley's ex-husband, an alien prince, arrives on the station. She disagrees with his politics and violent methods, but he's a raging bucket of pheromone-laden attraction. This leads to a fair amount of sexual tension.
I'm hard pressed to think of anything I don't like about this novel. No technobabble, no stereotypical heroine, and no solving things by simply shooting at them. It's just the right length, and it ends well with a good twist right in the last paragraph. If you enjoy reading Iain M. Banks or watching Babylon 5, this should be right up your street.
If you like this, try:Polar City Nightmare by Katherine Kerr and Kate Daniel
This is the second novel in the Polar City series.
The Ship Who Searched by Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey
Tia is a girl trapped in the body of a spaceship.
Cosmonaut Keep by Ken Macleod
Mankind goes to the stars, but Ken Macleod has created a crowded universe in Book One of the Engines of Light series.