Monday, January 26, 2009

PEACEKEEPER by Laura E. Reeve

Peacekeeper by Laura E. Reeve was an enjoyable and fast read. It was a lot less gritty than I expected, considering the cover.

Peacekeeper is about a woman named Ariane who has been hidden by the government because of her role in the delivery and detonation of a weapon that may have wiped out an entire solar system. She's been living with her guilt for fifteen years, and would be a wreak of alcohol and drug addiction if it had not been for her enhanced metabolism. She has an enhanced metabolism because she is an N-space pilot, or one who is trained--and apparently physically altered--to be able to navigate a ship through N-space, which enables ships to cross interstellar distances.

N-space is navigated through a series of time buoys set up near solar systems. A race called the Minoans set up (or is guardians of) the buoys. Humanity doesn't have access to the technology behind the buoys, but they are permitted to use them. Temporal Distortion weapons can destroy these time buoys, and it was a TD weapon that may have destroyed the solar system of Ura-Guinn. At best, the people of Ura-Guinn are stranded, cut off from the rest of humanity. Nothing can be known of them until the light from the Ura-Guinn sun (if it still exists) reaches (or doesn't reach) the nearest telescopes.

Humanity is divided into two warring factions. The Terran Expansion League and the Consortium of Autonomous Worlds. Ari belongs to the Consortium. There is an uneasy peace due to a treaty, and no one is willing to break the treaty due to the presance of the Minoans. At the start of the story, Ari learns that most of those who were with her on their ill-fated mission have been killed. Her mission is to help protect one of the surviving members while serving as an intelligence officer during a tense weapon inspection.

The worldbuilding in this novel is outstanding. The society is built on Greek culture. The major religion is a greek goddess, Gaia. Cities, habitats and worlds all have Greek or Byzantium names, like Hellas Prime and Athen's Point. The author unravels the story of Ura-Guinn and other plot points that I haven't touched on throughout the whole novel in the form of flashbacks.

I have one major quibble, and that is the use of religion. I'm getting accustomed to seeing ancient religions portrayed as major faiths in science fiction novels, but honestly, I have trouble buying the entire concept. In this case, the Gaian faith subsumes both Christianity and Islam, and "Kristos" and Mohammad are reduced to mere avatars. I don't find this concept particularly well-researched, because it would render the scriptural texts of two major religions (three, if you count Judiasm) into lies. And why base a religion (the Giaian one, in this case) on lies? The Terrans don't believe in the Gaian faith, and one calls it an "obvious backlash against patriarchal orders of Kristos and the small male-centric Mohammedan cults." It kind of sounds like that to me as well. Ariane professes to be "not particularly spiritual", but she still prays to Gaia at life-threatening moments. I would have been happier with the novel had the author just left religion out of it.

On the other hand, one bit that I found refreshing was the way Earth was rendered a less than desirable place to live. No global warming, no mass pollution or nuclear wars. Instead, a massive volcanic explosion blew Earth's "friendly surface into an ice age. Yellowstone was a costly lesson in souls and biomass and ecosystems and species, as well as pride. Mankind learned that their footprints on Terra could never compare to the internal rages within the planet, itself." I think this was a good choice on the part of the author. Guilt is already an overriding theme in the novel, especially if humans did, in fact, blow away (or may have) an entire solar system. Had the author saddled humanity with the loss of Earth as well, It probably would have tipped the balance of the novel.

Overall, this was a fun, easily-devoured novel. Ariane has interesting flaws, and has successes and failures along the way. She can kick ass when she needs to, but is not particularly prone to fighting. The much-feared Minoans are fascinating, and I would be interested in uncovering their mysteries. And the mystery of Ura-Guinn is left unknown, leaving the reader looking forward to the next novel.

Amazon (US, Canada, UK


Carlos J Cortes said...

Hello, Tia,

As usual, your review of “Peacekeeper” is deep, incisive, and learned. In particular, I loved your comment about the author’s use of religions. I don’t think anyone can predict if the religions of the book will withstand the passage of time--in an age of free-flowing information. But their projection far in to the future certainly requires a considerable leap of faith.

Take care,


Tia Nevitt said...

Thank you, Carlos!