Tag Archives: telepathy

Subjugation (Subjugation #1)

Title: Subjugation

Author: James Galloway

Series: Subjugation #1

Humans had dreamed of alien contact, but nobody expected the Faey to show up one day in a gigantic battleship, demanding Earth surrender or be annihilated. These blue-skinned humanoids then solidified the subjugation by using their telepathy to root out and crush any resistance. But Jason Fox refuses to surrender. His plan to do just well enough in school to avoid forced labor on the farms and then wash out to a quiet career comes to a screeching halt when he captures the interest of one of the Faey Marines stationed in his town. She wants him, and she won’t take no for an answer. Soon his little resistance snowballs into a far bigger fight than he ever imagined.

I’m really torn on this book. On the one hand, I love the detailed descriptions of alien tech. The ideas behind it, how it fits together, and how Jason scrapes by with obsolete components built to do something outside the original specs is a lot of fun. The plasma-based technology is interesting, and some of my favorite parts are where the story spends a page or more simply breaking down how the newest gadget works. Add to that the challenge of building a habitable base in an urban wilderness of abandoned towns, or the various prank wars Jason initiates, or the eventual real war that happens despite everything, and there’s a lot of fun to be had.

And the twist about human telepaths was really good.

On the other hand, there’s just no way I buy the “romantic” relationships. The Faey are a female-dominated society whose women are a teenage boy’s wildest dream come true: girls whose thoughts are dominated by sex, all have great bodies, and don’t mind sleeping around. All. The. Time. In fact the book gets pretty fervent in its defense of why it’s totally okay for Jason to be true loves with one Faey female but bedding anyone else he finds attractive. And his partner equally expects to be able to sleep around herself.

I don’t buy the lack of jealousy (he rationalizes the situation over and over to himself, but since when was jealousy rational?), or on the flip side, the way his roaming eye isn’t degrading his bond with his true love. I don’t see anything deep in his relationship with the woman he gets involved with. It’s a relationship that starts with her not honoring his “no,” and even though that drives him wild, once he ends up sleeping with her they’re golden. I could go on, but it boils down to Sex Makes Everything Better just being something that ought to work out better in theory than in practice.

(For a great counter-example, see Teckla by Steven Brust, where Vlad and his wife love each other but have irreconcilable political differences. And this is not because I think everything ought to end unhappily, but because it highlights the hard truth that holding to convictions can cost you, and which ones you choose to hold on to determine what has to be sacrificed).

Overall, whether or not you like this is going to depend on two things: if you like getting a lot of details about pretty much everything, and if you don’t mind or enjoy the way all the sex gets presented. I rate this book Neutral.

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Beast Master’s Ark (Beast Master)

Title: Beast Master’s Ark

Author: Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie

Series: Beast Master

Storm has better things to do than cater to the egos of the scientists on the Ark. Some unknown thing is stripping living things down to the bone overnight, and if it isn’t stopped soon, the humans and the natives of Arzor might end up warring each other. Tani, a scientist, dislikes the Beast Masters because she thinks they kill their teams. But her help is vital if they hope to stop disaster.

A number of things broke the story, for me. Punctuation was one of my more minor quibbles, but cropped up often enough to be aggravating. Characters would ask each other questions, that are clearly questions, and not use question marks. Some of the dialog felt stilted. The story awkwardly sets up Storm and Tani for a couple well before either of them want anything to do with the other, with even the animals asking if they’re going to mate right after she arrives.

And I found Tani extremely unlikable. She’s supposed to be 19 but her behavior is really childish. Giving her a tragic backstory is almost an excuse not to think. She’s lived through a war: she ought to understand, at the very least, there are two sides, and sometimes choosing not to fight means getting run over. (I have no problem with extreme pacifists who are willing to stake their own lives on that philosophy. It starts becoming a problem when they want to stake everyone else’s lives on it too.) This is a big problem with the potential romance angle, because now I’m actively rooting against them getting together.

For something so intrinsic to her character and her upbringing, she changes her mind remarkably easily. The character just never felt right to me. The tragedy felt rather tacked on since once the decision is made that’s it.

Other than that, this is a decent enough read. I just couldn’t get over how much I hated Tani, which spoiled everything. I rate this book Neutral.

Lab Rat One (Touchstone #2)

Title: Lab Rat One

Author: Andrea K. Höst

Series: Touchstone #2

Cassandra Devlin is still adjusting to being on another planet. Well, technically, planets, since she’s been the instrumental force in re-opening Munia for Tare’s people to recolonize. But the mystery of what killed the original inhabitants of Munia and drove the survivors to other planets hasn’t been solved. The rifts and the memories of monsters that populate the spaces are growing worse. And even though her abilities make her irreplaceable, no one’s really sure what to do with her. Can she survive long enough to find a place in this crazy new world?

This continues smoothly right from where Stray left off. If you haven’t read that book first, stop reading this and go do that.

I like how well-drawn these characters are. Cassandra really isn’t more than a typical teen in so many ways, and she’s having a lot of trouble keeping up with the Olympic-level athletic Setari. Having weird enhancement abilities doesn’t give her a free pass–she’s worked as hard as her body will tolerate, and still isn’t very good in a fight. I liked that the Setari exercise so much, amusingly enough. They’re not magically able to make themselves fit and trim either, and being injured requires rehabilitation even with some of the fast-healing nanotechnology they’ve invented.

It shows in other ways too. The awkwardness of the monitoring comes back, especially when Cassandara starts thinking about a possible relationship. The little pieces of daily life, like television shows and shopping, intersperses with the more intense periods of missions, invasions, and general action.

I was also impressed the story firmly stays away from becoming a dystopia, where Cassandara needs to rebel against Evil Authority and reshape society. Instead she’s doing the work to fit in where she can, puts up with a lot of stress and discomfort, but still has limits she won’t cross.

The one thing that I wasn’t so keen on was the way the major relationship worked out in the end. It just seemed too much, too fast.

**SPOILERS**

Not that it didn’t make some sense to skip a few things, but going from a cool working relationship straight to sex in the span of about ten minutes felt really bizarre. No clearing the air, no trying to offer a bit of a relationship before sleeping together, just sex. I liked his character a lot, but I hadn’t thought he was someone so quick to jump between the sheets.

**SPOILERS END**

Overall if you liked Stray this is a very good followup. The character dynamics are very strong, and although the greater mysteries are unfolding very slowly, there’s plenty of action and excitement along the way. I rate this book Recommended.