Grimspace is a space opera a la Firefly, Farscape, and Star Wars. So if you like really intense, uneven storytelling that involves STAKES but also YA level angst, you’re going to eat this book up.
The story is told by Sirantha Jax, our protagonist. She is a jumper, a rare breed of person with the genetic compatibility to do space jump things. I really appreciate the author’s attempt to create science fiction tech that isn’t just robots and impulse engines and worm holes. Not that they aren’t great, but the attempt at novelty is greatly appreciated. I can’t say I quite follow the genetics thing but it also seems like something that would be further explored in one of the several subsequent books in the series so I’m not too fussed.
When we meet Jax, she’s in a prison hospital sort of thing being tortured. She is rescued by some random mercenary named March, and together, plus some fun side characters, they eventually try to spit on Farwan Corporation, which holds a monopoly over jumpers and thus over interstellar trade.
Jax is mean and traumatized and snitty and I was 100% here for it. Well, 98%. There are one or two spots in the book that she decides to show us how edgy she is by using slurs like the R word. There are also a couple somewhat troubling anti-choice comments. Like in one scene she stumbles onto a Matrix style room where a bunch of sedated women are kept as basically breeding mares. She bemoans the reduction of these women to womb but then when they contemplate what to do, her interest is only for the protection of the “unborn babies.” So I guess Jax has some learning left to do.
The side characters are great and often call Jax on her bullshit. A much older woman gets to be the hero in one spot and she is epic. We have s tough mechanic with a frilly backstory and a winey young brat that finds the courage to lead. In general, the women are so VARIED, which is the highest praise I can give, especially for science fiction which often badly fails its women. It also respects the reader enough not to waste time reminding us of something that happened five minutes ago and generally not beat our heads with “THIS IS WHAT I AM DOING! DO YOU GET IT?!” Which is refreshing.
But for most of us, I think I could have stopped this review after the first sentence. Firefly. Farscape. Star Wars. Need I really say more?