October Books 8) Primary Inversion

8) Primary Inversion, by Catherine Asaro

OK, all can now be revealed. I have mentioned a couple of times previously that a real live Nebula-winning science fiction author was so put out by my negative comments about her writing that she sent me three of her other books to read and see if I still felt the same way. That author was Catherine Asaro, and good for her for deciding to engage a hostile critic with charm. Turns out of course that she lives very near Washington and I could almost have gone to her house and picked them up on Monday…

As I shuffled through Washington National Airport yesterday on my way to Utah (where I am currently suffering early-morning jetlag) one of the women on security spotted Primary Inversion clutched in my hands, and commented, “That’s a very good book you’re reading.” Her agreement with my literary choices didn’t prevent her from selecting me for secondary security screening, but she was quite right about the book: it is indeed good. It shares a certain amount of plot with Asaro’s Hugo-nominated short story from this year, “Walk in Silence”, which I absolutely hated, but somehow in this – her first novel! – she seemed to pull things together much more convincingly and coherently.

I was also minded to compare her brand of space opera featuring leading women characters very favourably with C.J. Cherryh’s impenetrable Downbelow Station and Cyteen (which I haven’t finished yet), and the imperialism and implausibilities of David Weber’s first Honor Harrington novel, On Basilisk Station. Though I’m not at all a romance fan, I am a Bujold fan, and Primary Inversion seems to me to fit in that category. Looking forward to reading the rest now.

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