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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.

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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  

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