Skip to main content

Blue Shift (SF) - Jane O'Reilly ****

Blue Shift, published by Piatkus, is the first novel in O’Reilly’s The Second Species Trilogy. It’s a fast paced, page-turning, planet-hopping space adventure set at the end of the Twenty-Second Century as the Earth is in the final stages of decline. It also blends erotic romance with science fiction, so may not be the first choice of some hard-core tech-geek science fiction fans. If, however, you’re not adverse to a bit of cross-genre writing and some intimately detailed sex scenes, then look no further.

Blue Shift introduces us to Jinnifer Blue, a poor little rich girl on the run and an expert pilot with some interesting and illegal genetic modifications. When a particularly dangerous job goes wrong she ends up stranded on an all-male prison ship with a notorious and dangerous space pirate, who turns out to have some modifications of his own. If that’s not bad enough, the pair of them discover an horrific secret on board the prison ship that is destined to have serious repercussions for them both and humankind as a whole.

There is lots of action, including seat of the pants flying, explosions, betrayals and blaster-fights, as well as the romantic and physical attraction you might expect from a more mainstream erotic romance. I’m not a science writer, so can’t really comment meaningfully on the science behind the story, but the future universe the book creates seemed credible and I wasn’t distracted by any gaping logic-holes in its structure. It is inhabited by an interesting mixture of stratified humans, droids and aliens and a senate full of politicians as trust-worthy as any in the Twenty-First Century. There are also some nice touches such as the terminal global-freezing of the Earth, caused by humankind’s botched attempt at dealing with global-warming.

The writing is smooth and polished and the story hurtles along at a pace that kept me both wanting more and delivering it. This is not cutting edge or profound and thought-provoking science fiction, but it is vastly entertaining. 

Jinnifer Blue is a strong and potentially complex female lead character and I hope those complexities will be played out and explored a little further over the trilogy.  Blue Shift is all about the ride, as it were, but there are enough high-charged dramatic storylines to keep the series evolving meaningfully over the following two books. It is worth repeating that this is the first book in a planned trilogy. Readers expecting a satisfying ending tied up neatly in a bow (or even leather bondage straps) are going to be disappointed. The story is set to continue into book two, Deep Blue, and, I suspect, won’t achieve a satisfying climax until the end of book three.

Paperback 

Kindle 
Review by J. S. Watts
J.S.Watts is a UK novelist and poet. Her poetry and short stories appear in a diversity of publications in Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the States. Her poetry collections, “Cats and Other Myths”, “Years Ago You Coloured Me” and a multi-award nominated SF poetry pamphlet, “Songs of Steelyard Sue”, are published by Lapwing Publications. Her latest poetry pamphlet, “The Submerged Sea”, is published by Dempsey and Windle.  Her novels, “A Darker Moon” and “Witchlight” are published in the UK and the US by Vagabondage Press. Her new paranormal novel, “Old Light” is due out in summer 2019. You can find her on Facebook at  or on her website  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art of Statistics - David Spiegelhalter *****

Statistics have a huge impact on us - we are bombarded with them in the news, they are essential to medical trials, fundamental science, some court cases and far more. Yet statistics is also a subject than many struggle to deal with (especially when the coupled subject of probability rears its head). Most of us just aren't equipped to understand what we're being told, or to question it when the statistics are dodgy. What David Spiegelhalter does here is provide a very thorough introductory grounding in statistics without making use of mathematical formulae*. And it's remarkable.

What will probably surprise some who have some training in statistics, particularly if (like mine) it's on the old side, is that probability doesn't come into the book until page 205. Spiegelhalter argues that as probability is the hardest aspect for us to get an intuitive feel for, this makes a lot of sense - and I think he's right. That doesn't mean that he doesn't cover all …

Six Impossible Things - John Gribbin *****

On first handling John Gribbin's book, it's impossible not to think of Carlo Rovelli's Seven Brief Lessons in Physics - both are very slim, elegant hardbacks with a numbered set of items within - yet Six Impossible Things is a far, far better book than its predecessor. Where Seven Brief Lessons uses purple prose and vagueness in what feels like a scientific taster menu, Gribbin gives us a feast of precision and clarity, with a phenomenal amount of information for such a compact space. It's a TARDIS of popular science books, and I loved it.

Like rather a lot of titles lately (notably Philip Ball's excellent Beyond Weird), what Gribbin is taking on is not the detail of quantum physics itself - although he does manage to get across its essence in two 'fits' (named after the sections of Hunting of the Snark - Gribbin includes Lewis Carroll's epic poem in his recommended reading, though it's such a shame that the superb version annotated by Martin Gardi…

Elizabeth Bear - Four Way Interview

Elizabeth Bear won the John W. Campbell award for Best New Writer in 2005 and has since published 15 novels and numerous short stories. She writes in both the SF and fantasy genres and has won critical acclaim in both. She has won the Hugo Award more than once. She lives in Massachusetts. Her latest title is Ancestral Night.

Why science fiction?

I've been a science fiction fan my entire life, and I feel like SF is the ideal framework for stories about humanity and how we can be better at it. Not just cautionary tales - though there's certainly also value in cautionary tales - but stories with some hope built in that we might, in fact, mature as a species and take some responsibility for things like reflexive bigotry and hate crimes (as I'm writing this, the heartbreaking news about the terrorist attack on Muslim worshipers in Christchurch is everywhere) and global climate destabilization. These are not intractable problems, but we need, as a species, the will to see that we …