The IX by Andrew P. Weston: Book Review by Christopher Crosby Morris

http://www.amazon.com/The-IX-Andrew-P-Weston-ebook/dp/B00RM54QBA/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

What’s so great about The IX? Review by Christopher Crosby Morris may give you a hint….
The IX by Andrew Weston has every element I love in a big, fat novel: military history, heroic fantasy, visionary and metaphysical, weaponized technology, science and science fiction — all wrapped up in a story about people — about honor and duty and what people can do when pushed beyond their perceived limits in pursuit of goal greater than themselves. Species altruism, it’s called these days. Long ago, it as called by other names. If you liked Janissaries but wished the characters were deeper, less wooden; if you loved Dune but wished it moved faster, with more propulsion; if you are fascinated by the critical moments in human history and the dynamics that drove them, this book is for you.
Or if you’ve had enough overwritten and doting violence, or have ever made your living in defence, policing, peacekeeping and international security — if you love space opera and heroes of bygone days, then you’ll want to read The IX. The author has been there and done that: a Royal Marine, a Special Boat Service commando who’s a MENSA graduate with a degree in law and one in astronomy. If most so-called military sf leaves you wondering how the writer ever earned his stripes and if he ever went downrange, you’ll recognize the soldiers and terrorists and patriots in The IX, who put aside their factional hatreds and interoperate as only the best can and must do.
The story is about these men, and a few women, and about their spiritual as well as physical quest. These characters are forced to band together to save humanity from a threat that’s badly misunderstood. Soon enough, the ‘lost’ IXth Roman legion, cavalrymen and native American warriors, plus anti-terrorists and the terrorists they were fighting, are snatched away just moments before death, so that the timeline isn’t changed by their absence in their native centuries They then need to find a way to get along, work together, and solve the mystery of this enemy called the Horde that’s rampaging though the universe, killing anyone remotely human.
“Fight or die!” it says on the cover of this book. They will.
Now you may ask that if evolved humans, advanced technology and artificial intelligence far beyond our own our are stymied, how can we puny Earthlings help the Ardenese save humanity and the human race from extinction?
Just you wait. Just you watch. The two best things about The IX are its lack of literary pretensions and its surprising plot twists, which make the story feel real. Once a twist happens, a turn is taken, you say, ‘Oh, of course. I woulda done that.” And you would. If you’d been there.
So now you can be there, on an adventure that never lets up once it grabs you.
Did I say I highly recommend this book, even if you’ve never read science fiction or military history or wisdom texts? Or had you figured that out?

Advertisements

Outpassage by Janet Morris and Chris Morris reviewed on Black Gate

A Mining Colony, a Blind Date, and a Ghostly Alien Hand: A Review of Outpassage by Janet Morris & Chris Morris

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

Outpassage-smallOutpassage
By Janet Morris & Chris Morris
Perseid Press (430 pages, February 10, 2014, $24.95 trade paperback/$6.99 digital)
Cover by Vincent Di Fate

You only live once.

That is not only the theme of this excellent science fiction novel — it is also at the very heart of the novel’s story premise. Once again, I continue with my reviews of my favorite novels by Janet Morris and Chris Morris. But how I ever missed Outpassage when it was first published in 1988 I cannot say, because this is exactly the type of science fiction story I grew up reading in the pages of Amazing Stories and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. So this is the first time I’ve had the pleasure to read this great science fiction adventure.

Outpassage is action-packed, character-driven, and thought-provoking. The science is grounded in reality, but isn’t integral to the plot, and the tech never gets in the way of story and character: there is no garbage science or techno babble to muddle the plot. While this story has the feel of an old-fashioned, traditional science fiction novel from back in the day, it has a hip and modern sensibility to it. The characters are vivid and memorable, and the lean prose style is perfectly suited to the story. The dialogue is perfectly matched to each character — crisp and sharp, and very smart, with a fine balance of humor and gravitas.

Outpassage moves along like a starship going warp factor seven, with twists and surprises nearly every step of the way. And that wrap-around cover — wow! Fully captures the tone of the novel, and is a loving homage to classic SF covers. Once again, “fantasy’s power couple,” as one reviewer recently dubbed them, delivers a fine and rousing tale filled with mystery, espionage, religion, politics, and corporate shenanigans.

It begins on an outer space mining colony called X-31A, where a special forces Ranger Dennis “Det” Cox and his team are called in to “eradicate” a problem and clean up a mess. But the mission turns into a disaster, and Cox isn’t quite sure whether or not he saw signs of an alien presence on the piece of intergalactic real estate. Once he’s back home on earth and debriefed, Cox meets up with a woman named Paige Barnett, whom he was matched with on an internet dating site called Dream Date. Paige, however, is the Girl Friday to the top dog of a corporation called IST, who has their hands in terraforming, mining, and a few illegal activities, as well.

Well, as blind dates often go, this one goes horribly wrong: both Cox and Paige are shanghaied and are then separated. She is thrown into a labor group on another mining colony called X-66B, where she falls in with a group of rebel workers. Cox, however, has been nabbed for a paramilitary mission to find real evidence of an alien presence, and to target the rebel base of union-organizing workers — on the very same X-66B.

Outpassage cover-small

During one sortie, Cox once again catches a glimpse of a ghostly alien hand, just as he did on X-31A. His team also discovers a rock sample that may or may not be a genuine alien artifact. A character named Locke, who may or may not be on Cox’s side, and may or may not have an agenda all his own says at one point, about “black ops” agents and their mission:

I’m just saying that those black operators who briefed us up there and gave us every little thing we asked for… they want any alien life or evidence of alien life eradicated. You think bringing this piece of stone over here fits that description?

And then that rock sample is somehow mysteriously pulverized, quite by accident, or so Cox is later told.

Meanwhile, Paige gets herself more deeply involved with the revolutionaries, and takes part in a ritual that so totally blows her mind, she starts to question everything she knows about IST, the CEO she is secretly in love with, and IST’s mission statement: about life, death, and her own place in the universe. Integral to all this is a black co-worker, a powerful presence of a man named Freedom Ayoub — “the man who had been dead.” He becomes Paige’s self-appointed protector and guru, and it’s mostly from him that she learns about Redemption, Resurrection, and the Holy Way. This philosophy, this cult is at the heart of what happened on the X-31A mining colony, and the ghostly alien hand Cox first sees there and then again on X-66B. This new religion is also the very heart of the workers’ revolution: what it is, what it means to Cox, Paige, Freedom, Mankind, and the very nature of existence is also the foundation upon which this wonderful science fiction novel is built. To say more on this new religion and the ultimate truth it contains would be to give away too many spoilers.

Outpassage, Oct 1988 edition, Pageant Books

When Cox receives a transcript from one of his men — a message calling for help from a woman claiming to be Paige Barnett, he sets out to search for her. The fact that they were shanghaied together while on their dream date, the fact that she is the right-hand of the CEO of IST, and now her presence on X-66B convinces Cox that he isn’t crazy, that the presence of alien life is very real, but whether or not this presence is tied in with the labor movement and the growing religion of Redemption, Resurrection and the Holy Way remains to be seen. Cox needs Paige for validation, and goes to great lengths to find her. A female pilot named Frickey follows orders that get most of Cox’s Alpha and Beta teams killed — including Schultz, who was more than a teammate to her — and then sets out to make amends. She rejoins Cox and together they go search for Paige, while working to uncover the truth behind what is going on.

The last act of this intriguing story finds Cox left with the decision to obey a direct order to destroy X-66B, killing all those left behind, or to fake the destruction of X-66B, which would consign those same people to a long, slow and agonizing death. Will he find and rescue Paige? How and where does Freedom Ayoub play into all this? Can X-66B and all those left behind be saved? And what will Cox’s final decision be?

You’ll have to read Outpassage and find out for yourself. Many questions are answered, and then even more questions arise that need answers. This is thought-provoking science fiction, with the action and feel of a space opera, and with elements of mystery and espionage to keep us turning the page. And the characters ring true, jumping right off the page….

Paige Barnett is a thoroughly modern woman — a brilliant, tough, no-nonsense bureaucrat who rules in her corporate world, but find herself way out of her element when she’s shanghaied and taken to X-66B. Could this possibly have been a set-up to get her out of the way because she knows too much and has spoken out against IST’s corporate policy on what first happened on X-31A? What she sees, what she learns, and what happens to her brings her to a place of enlightenment she at first fears, and then accepts. What about Freedom Ayoub, the quiet, powerful and yet almost childlike “man who had been dead”? What’s his story? Why is he so integral to Paige, and why is she determined to see that he lives and is returned to Earth to tell all that he knows and all that he is? And then there’s Frickey, ace-pilot and rock-steady warrior who undergoes her own transformation during the course of this novel. Will she overcome her guilt and grief and help to bring home Cox, Paige and Ayoub?

But this is truly Dennis “Det” Cox’s story. A non-com and experienced warrior cut from the cloth of the Homeric ideal of a hero. He’s plain, blunt-spoken, and takes no bull from anyone; a real ground-pounder, a soldier who hates politics, but does his job and does it well. He’s the guy you want on your side, the guy on whose side you want to be. He faces decisions and moral dilemmas, as well as the heat of combat and the intrigues of corporate policy. But what revelations he is forced to see and accept are the hardest things he’s ever done. Enlightenment is there for him to grasp, but it disturbs him with its reality-changing truth, and he is left to face more decisions in a finale I did not see coming, but is perfect, nonetheless. For Cox, that moment arrives when he witnesses, when he touches and learns the truth behind the words… You Only Live Once.

Why this outstanding novel was overlooked for Nebula and Hugo awards is beyond me. When you combine a great story with flesh and blood characters, with plenty of action, and then toss into the mix the machinations of a powerful business conglomerate, paramilitary activity, corporate intrigue and espionage, politics, religion, and an undefined, possible alien presence…you have a novel that succeeds on many levels.

Once again, bravo Janet and Chris Morris!

Outpassage was written by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, and originally published in paperback by Pageant Books in 1988. The Authors Cut Edition was published by Perseid Press in February 2014. It is 386 pages, priced at $24.95 in trade paperback.. Cover art, design and frontispiece by Vincent Di Fate.

This review by Joe Bonadonna was originally published on Black Gate; click to view original:  http://www.blackgate.com/2014/09/16/a-mining-colony-a-blind-date-and-a-ghostly-alien-hand-a-review-of-outpassage-by-janet-morris-chris-morris/

Janet Morris and Chris Morris interview on the collaborative process in literature

Originally published in Uviart.  Thanks. Uvi Poznansky, for this incisive interview

http://uviart.blogspot.com/p/guest-interview.html

Guest

Interview about Collaboration:
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.”
with
Janet Morris and Chris Morris
Authors of
And more books
So said Shakespeare’s Polonius of Hamlet, in Hamlet. So say Janet Morris and Chris Morris, lifetime collaborators in words, music, and strategy. I cornered this elusive pair to ask some hard questions about how they do what they do, and why.
Janet and Chris, writing is known to be a solitary art. How do you two manage to write seamlessly together, so much so that no one can tell which of you wrote what?
Uvi, Apropos of collaboration, Shakespeare’s Touchstone said in As You Like It, “We that are true lovers run into strange capers.” As Chris and I often do.
But first let us give you our view of collaboration as an art form. For centuries, two or more people have been collaborating on written works under one person’s name. History is rife with collaborations, announced and unannounced.
Some examples? Shakespeare had several close collaborators, none so famous in his own right as Christopher Marlowe, who seems to us to have been his closest collaborator, due to similarity in each man’s work and style. We’ve written of these two collaborating in various tales in our Heroes in Hell series. J, the Yahwist, first writer of the Old Testament, also had many collaborators. Even before Biblical times, collaboration was common: the Greek mythic cycles were written not only by Homer, but by many writers; whether these collaborators wrote at the same time, or followed one another, is immaterial: these were true collaborations. As literature became a business, not merely an art form for the collective memory of the human race, the custom and marketing strategy of putting one — almost always male — name on a work became an unwritten convention, pushing anonymous contributors into the background. Yet they often can be found, peeking out from history’s shadows, unsung and influential.
But these questions are about us, collaborating today: while we’re alive, we can answer what questions we choose, rather than leaving posterity to wonder; be as forthcoming as we wish about life and love and art. For us, life and love and art are one. We have always written together, first song melodies and lyrics, later novels — but always with one of us taking the lead, the other in support. In our early days, Janet supported Chris’ music, and Chris supported Janet’s prose. Since we met in 1966, we spent years smoothing the rough edges of our collaborative process, learning to focus on the art in question, not the artist, and thereby improving both. If we write seamlessly, it is because we deliberate about every thought, every phrase, every word, every rhythm, yet strive never to lose the shape of the initial conception. Our prose is rhythmic, our plots inventive, our song lyrics carry messages because we are keenly aware that a person has only so much time in life, and must use that time wisely.  When we begin a new piece of prose or piece of music, we start with a clear idea of what that story or song must say. We vigorously weed out irrelevancies and polish our idea until it is bright, clear, shining in our hearts and in our minds. When writing prose, the mind’s eye is where the visualization first takes place; when we write music, it is the ear which first carries the message to the brain.
All art is communication of ideas. We have co-written op/eds and policy pieces for governments, strategic plans for military, academic, and industrial users, as well as fiction. Writing nonfiction has taught us when and how to be sparing of words. Chris has been the voice of a TV station and products as well as our music. Now we are exploring the close relationships between music and writing fiction by producing audio books. The Sacred Band (audio edition) took a year to complete. Because the story’s characters live deep in our hearts and first drew breath in the 20th century, we took great pains to ensure that the narration remains true to the characters, who have evolved over decades and millions of words. Narration is only one breath away from literary exposition.
For each art form, our process is the same: one of us begins the effort with a title, a musical passage, a topic or an idea, or a clearly-stated purpose. Once the title and the purpose of the piece are agreed, the process of perfecting story and rhythm — yes, even fiction should have its rhythms, its beats — is sometimes begun by one or the other. Often, when a day’s work is completed by one, the other adds a voicing, a suggestion, recognizes a lost facet or missed opportunity, clarifies whatever is unclear; changes are agreed, and at the end of the day, we are sitting together, reading or playing the work aloud and finishing what the morning began. In music or prose, we never continue drafting or recording a long piece of work until we’re both happy with what we’ve done previously. If later in the evolution of the piece an element needs to be included that was omitted or unrecognized in the work as we began it, we go back and make those changes. Some recent examples of this process can be seen in our Heroes in Hell series,
For instance, Chris began Babe in Hell (a story in Rogues in Hell) with the idea of a baby and Solomon reprising the famous Biblical story, albeit in Hell. To Hell Bent in Dreamers in Hell Chris immediately added the quip “And twice on Sadderdays.” Once we’d named the play which is the centerpiece of the story, Janet added the flayed skins of heroes to be used as props. But sometimes, in longer works, we can’t recall who authored what lines. In “Words” in Poets in Hell, working on the first paragraph, Janet asked Chris to supply the crucial word: “Words are the what? of the mind” Janet asked. Chris said “mortar.” So the line now reads “Words are the mortar of the mind.” And so it goes, a natural give and take, sometimes contentious, often strenuous, always fascinating.
Our process is not quick. We’ve taken years to do a book such as I, the Sun; we say The Sacred Band (TSB) took eighteen months, but if one includes the research and discussion time before the first word was written, TSB culminates years of effort to crystallize that story so we could then write it. In this way, we please ourselves, and have pleased many readers and listeners as well.
You who know our body of work are now wondering why one name appears on so many of the books or musical compositions. For now, suffice it to say that publishers think readers want a work crafted by an individual, preferably a male (unless the work is a romance or a book about women in society).
Now that you have told us how you write together, answer this harder question: Why?
Why write together? A collaborator provides perspective, a broader view; a universality that one mind, male or female, often cannot attain. For centuries such collaborations were known only behind the scenes:  the woman or man who was the editor, co-creator of ideas, first reader, was the power behind the throne, unnamed, a secret presence. So how do we decide whose name goes on a work when only one name appears? If one writer drives the work individually, or if a work is best read as the product of male or female, we so credit it. For this reason, we have several times used male pseudonyms when selling a book to a publisher for a particular market.
As you point out, the two of you haven’t always published with joint bylines. How did your first official collaborations come about?
Our first official collaborations in song music and lyrics preceded our collaborations in books and stories by about a decade. Although Janet received some writing credits on The Christopher Morris Band (MCA 1977) record album, and High Couch of Silistra was published under the byline ‘Janet Morris’ in that same year, not until 1984 was the first fantasy fiction story, “What Women Do Best,” published with the byline ‘Chris and Janet Morris’ in Wings of Omen, (Ace, 1984). And that occurred only with editor Bob Asprin grumbling that ‘now everybody’s going to want to do this in Thieves’ World®.’”
If Janet hadn’t been a canonical contributor to the series at that time, we wouldn’t have gotten permission for the dual byline. And sure enough, other spouses and collaborators long relegated to the background began appearing in Thieves’ World volumes and other places.
Subsequently, we signed a multi-book contract with Jim Baen, one of the caveats being dual authorship for some titles, but not all. We delivered those books, including The 40-Minute War, M.E.D.U.S.A, City at the Edge of Time, Tempus Unbound, and Storm Seed with dual authorship and Jim published them that way.
This in turn led to other joint book contracts, including but not limited to Outpassage (1988), Threshold (1990), Trust Territory (1992), The Stalk (1994), as well as several books by single-author male pseudonyms.
Nevertheless, publishers generally still wanted single male names on adventure or nonfiction or ‘serious books’ and female names on romance books, so the market continued to conform to its preference for single-writer bylines.
A book with the name ‘Janet Morris’ was still worth more to a publisher than a book with ‘Janet Morris and Chris Morris’ as listed co-authors. So we created male pseudonyms and these books commanded substantial advances in markets formerly closed to us. In the minds of publishers then, and perhaps readers, a story told by a single male was preferable, but even a tale told by a woman was preferable to a tale told by one woman and one man. We set our sites on this ox, and set off to gore it. And might have succeeded, as male/female co-authorship became more commonplace, but our brainchild “nonlethal weapons” intervened, taking us out of the fiction marketplace for nearly two decades. In that interval, Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, another writer at the literary agency which handles us, wrote War and Anti-war with his wife Heidi Toffler, insisting her name appear this time as co-author. The revolution had begun in earnest among writers with enough clout to enforce their wishes.
Do you believe that putting a man’s name or a woman’s name on a book effects who will read that book?
We experimented, as did other writers and publishers, with putting different names on books. Sometimes Janet wrote with other male or female writers, to see if the ‘Janet Morris’ brand could be transferred as publishers looked for ways to turn writers into franchises, as was done with Robert Ludlum, Stephen King, Tom Clancy, etc. But when a better writer is paired with a lesser writer, quality may suffer, and even honest writers trying to accommodate one another may lose the consistency of purpose, passion, and voice that a single writer or a self-chosen pair of writers can achieve.
The ‘brand name writer’ bias may then kick in, causing readers to buy only books written by the individuals or pairs of writers they already enjoy, not the franchised producers of subsidiary works or ‘as told to’ books.
As for the ‘gender’ bias in literature, at present this is still a real and strong force. Men looking for adventure fantasy or science fiction or military books are less likely to buy a book written by a woman; women with a strong allegiance to women’s rights and women’s issues are less likely to buy a book by a man or co-written by a man.
So the issue of whether a man’s name or a woman’s name goes on a book may be inextricably linked to subject as well as story, insight, and prose quality.
You’ve both written under single-author pseudonyms, always choosing a single male. Why did you do that? Do you still do it? If, so, why or why not?
We did this to break out of the science fiction/fantasy ghetto, into the mainstream, in days when those genres had a more limited market than today.
Do we still do it? No.
In actuality, our body of work allows us to write what we wish under either or both our names. For instance, we’re writing a novel about Rhesos of Thrace — as is our wont, this book has a Homeric feel, a purport that takes the Iliad for true, but focuses on a single character from that story and his later adventures. This book is a true novel — one part mythical realism, one part dark fantasy, one part heroic fiction in the literary sense, and one part a historical representation of the mythos of that character. We plan a new Sacred Band of Stepsons novel, which requires very specific voices and explores the hero-cult as a fait accompli, a subject fascinating us.
But if we were to undertake a contemporary story dealing with modern politics (sexual, racial, governmental and corporate), we’d consider writing such a book under a new male pseudonym, to allow us complete freedom of what we’d say and how we’d say it, because the truths behind these topics are brutal and unwelcome to those who think revisionist history will solve all the problems inherent in modern society and the human condition. Which condition is, of course, the only fit subject for fiction.
What are the benefits and debits of collaboration so far as process, not marketing, is concerned?
If a pair entering into a collaboration sets ground rules, defines story elements and shares a joint preoccupation with the characters, two hearts, two sets of eyes and two sets of ears impart an enhanced perspective, powering the creation of characters spun from utmost reality, characters perhaps more fully realized than a single mind might contrive to make them. In a pair made up of one male and one female writer, the native intelligence of both sexes is present in great measure, bringing a universal verisimilitude. The process of reaching truth and clarity for characters and story may have uncomfortable moments for one or both writers, but facing those places in the soul where one hesitates to look is the true purpose of fiction — to portray the world through a temperament (or two, or three).
What advice would you give to other collaborators about creating and marketing their joint works?
If two collaborators each have a previous body of work, then once both acknowledge parity, a new book can begin taking shape. If one writer is better known or better at structure or at lyric, then play to those strengths. Do not show this book to third parties, or discuss it with others until both writers are completely certain of every nuance, every line, every twist and turn of plot and psyche.
If two collaborators have no previous experience working with others, they must work harder to put aside their preconceptions and look at story and character honestly: success, not in the short term but for all time, depends upon the quality of every word. Make sure that both collaborators share the same goals. Define the story elements. Invoke the characters and be sure both agree who those characters are and what they represent concerning the story’s driving purpose.
Then begin, starting at the beginning. Create an adventure that two can share, and you will have created an adventure that the world can love.
Only when this first book is finished, no longer a fragile vision, but a full blown juggernaut of risk and beauty, show it to a publisher whose other publications attract you. If you both like what an editor or publisher has previously chosen, they may well decide to choose you.
Book Links:
Author Links:

OUTPASSAGE – Great Science Fiction!

OUTPASSAGE - Great Science Fiction!

You only die once…

Outpassage Review on Book Vira, 4/8/2014:
Sgt. “Det” Cox has just spent three years under psych observation on Earth; now that he’s out-system, he isn’t about to tell anyone he’s seeing aliens again. Paige Barnett has lost everything, even her name, because she knows too much about the rebellion spreading through the Earth-Space mining colonies. Together Cox and Barnett stumble upon the mystery at the revolution’s heart and learn why the rebels are willing to die for it. Is their discovery humanity’s worst threat or greatest gift? The authorities are willing to destroy whole planets to keep the revolution’s secret from reaching Earth What’s to stop them from destroying two people?

Proffering an intriguingly plausible vision of a near future, Outpassage is the new SF epic from authors Janet Morris and Chris Morris. An exceptionally well written tale that weaves powerful ideas, highly visual settings and a brilliantly conceived plot, it has all the elements of great Science Fiction, but it’s the mechanics of storytelling that really set it apart. Too many books in the genre simply seek to overwhelm with increasingly farfetched technology and outlandish characters, but Outpassage serves up palpable depth that encourages readers to reflect on the essence of our humanity. Yes, reality is altered, but when worshippers of an alien life form seemingly adopt the power to resurrect themselves, it provides for intelligent musings, reflections, and more than a little soul searching. All brought to the fore with an acerbic pen, visually powerful prose and vivid characterization.

Combining oodles of adventure, masterfully paced action, plenty of intrigue, suspense and tension, there is more than enough to sate the appetites of the most ardent SF fans. A real page turner from authors Janet and Chris Morris, Outpassage is recommended without reservation!

Authors Janet Morris & Chris Morris – In The Spotlight
bv back1

Outpassage reviewed by Walter Rhein on Yahoo

13 12 31 OP Final Front Cover no Seal

 Outpassage by Janet Morris and Chris Morris: a Return to Golden Era Science Fiction

A Review of the Classic Author’s Re-release

“Outpassage” is a fine example of thoughtful, adventurous science fiction. For those of you who know Janet Morris from “Thieves World” or the “Beyond” trilogy, this book will reveal an exciting new facet of one of your favorite authors. “Outpassage” isn’t written with the same lyrical, bard-like prose she uses when detailing the exploits of Tempus Thales, but such a choice wouldn’t be appropriate with a space epic. In “Outpassage” the sentences are sharp and direct, and bring life to a futuristic setting without losing any of the craftsmanship she has displayed in her previous work. Essentially she has simply updated her palate; instead of the greens and browns of Sanctuary, “Outpassage” allows her to work with the silver and black of space.

The story of “Outpassage” is instantly gripping as well. A corporation is mining/settling a planet only to discover alien life on the surface. Rather than view this development as the scientific discovery of the age, the corporation becomes concerned with the bottom line and decides to “eliminate” the alien problem. We are introduced to Daniel “Det” Cox, one of the rangers who is sent to the slaughter in a battle against a force he truly knows nothing about.

The alien “problem” has been developing for some time as Det is sent back to Earth for psych evaluation. On a whim, he signs up for a dating service, and gets set up with a high-ranking executive of the very corporation embarking on the plan of alien genocide. In a semi-comical twist, the two of them are shanghaied during their date, drugged, and sent to a different planet which is also displaying signs of the same alien problem. Det is commandeered because of his experience fighting the aliens, where the corporate official, Paige, is put to work in what is essentially a slave camp.

I found many of the space/future touches of this work to be delightful. Det is an interesting character because he’s so adaptive. Finding that he’s been drugged and shanghaied to a foreign planet, his big concern is that he didn’t black out any briefings because he doesn’t want to look incompetent in front of the men he’s set to lead.

Paige is interesting too. There is a tendency in literature to portray “corporate” folks as incompetent to adapt to a labor setting. Paige’s introduction to her new reality is rocky, but she quickly learns to climb the social ladder among the laborers to achieve the highest status available to her. She expresses moments of vulnerability which make her appealing, though she’s always got her eye on her long term goals and makes steady progress.

The scenario becomes more complicated as the laborers begin to develop a complex religion that worships the alien life form, and seems to bequeath the followers with the power to resurrect themselves from death. However, you have to wonder how much of the beings that come back are the original human, and how much of them are alien.

All in all, “Outpassage” has all the elements of a great science fiction novel. The space components (space travel, warfare on foreign planets, aliens, etc.) are present and expertly integrated into the plot. The writing is exemplary, and the novel moves along at a quick pace leaving you wanting more. This is a fantastic contribution by one of the best fantasy/sci-fi writers working today.

http://www.amazon.com/Outpassage-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B00IDC1E84/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION:
This content was based upon a free review copy the Contributor received.