I received an email alerting me to this novella, and since I’m in a novellaly kind of reading mood, I grabbed it from Liquid Silver. According to Liquid Silver CEO Tina Burns, the distribution to all ports of sale hasn’t occurred yet, but it will soon. So for right now, it’s only available from the LS website. I read the excerpt on the website, and couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I bought it the following day. It’s a quick read, but a good one, of adventure, action, kickingassery, and hot attraction. Weightlessness holds a LOT of curious appeal, all of a sudden.
Korina is an ER doctor, one of the best in her hospital, with a tactical mind and a very quick reaction time. She is prepared for just about every possibility in the ER, where much of the fuel is adrenaline and circumstances change in the measure of seconds. But when a giant fire surrounds one part of the ER, she runs toward the fire (she’s prepared for that situation mentally) and finds two sergeants in armor she’s never seen before, one bleeding and in need of immediate care, and the other, Morrow, trying to keep the wounded man upright while protecting himself.
While she cares for the wounded man, enemy soldiers swarm that section of the ER and a battle begins – yet none of the humans in the ER can see it. They’re behind a wall that occludes them from everyone else, save those in the fight. Because of everything she’s seen that she shouldn’t have witnessed, Morrow has to bring Korina with him as he runs into his next tactical mission, keeping her alive and trying to get his hands on technology that led to his comrade being wounded in the first place.
It was a brilliant decision on the part of the author to show how war and the ER environment reflect back on one another, with similarities and differences: are the people in war destroying themselves or saving each other… and are the people in the ER destroying themselves or saving each other? Korina realizes this as she learns about the battles Morrow faces:
I’ve learned battles, too…. Prepare for any contingency, then adapt when they change. That ER was combat. We fought fear and panic. We fought death.”
Point of view is a key element to the narration of the story, and in a very short space, Rosso peels back thin layers to reveal more to each character. Action and character development run at the same pace in each scene, but while the action moves rapidly, the character revelations and development run slightly slower. There’s no massive painfully awkward infodump, except in dialogue where exposition makes sense.
My biggest problem was how Super Powered Awesome Boo Yah Special Morrow and Korina are. Her ex boyfriends are meaningless drones who did nothing for her. His past is nothing but battle. He’s the most supremely special super kickass soldier she’s ever seen – he leaves every other man she’s known a withered husk of flaccid weakness in her memory. Morrow will never be sitting in a bathtub on the hillside, if you catch my meaning.
And every time Korina thinks about – because of course they have instant mind meld – or mentions an ex boyfriend or a man she once dated, Morrow gets all bristly and she has to reassure him that he’s the only man for her. It happens more than once. Once was more than enough.
This is a habit with the ancillary characters in general: Morrow and Korina are on a pedestal. Everyone else is dumb, and the more dumbassery that’s revealed to which the reader can compare the hero and heroine, the higher the pedestal is raised, like it’s on a hydraulic lift of negative comparison. They’re pretty kickass on their own, so there wasn’t so much need to cast all of humanity and everyone else in the universe in the shadow of You Kinda Suck so as to elevate the hero and heroine.
As with many a novella, there’s Insta-Love™, which is not my favorite thing. But there’s a short span of time for two people who have just met to commit to one another and go traipsing off into the dangers of open intergalactic warfare (no biggie!) so I suppose the Insta-Love™ is to be expected. And (OF COURSE) Morrow sees Korina running toward him in the ER and notices her running, her lab coat, and her breasts. Because in the thick of battle, with a man bleeding all over you… BOOBIES!
Where this story kicks ass is in the action sequences. There are choreographed battles, exploration of technology, new and ridiculously cool weapons and a full explanation for Korina (and the reader) of what the hell is going on with the Earth and this hidden war. The language is quick yet descriptive – it’s not repetitive and I could see in my mind the scenes playing out. Rosso uses color, light, and physical reactions of the characters to create the scenes, and it worked very well for me. I’m not usually a space adventure fan, and I don’t usually get into science fiction tales of action because with any long battle tales, there’s too much glowing explodey death for my tastes, but this story grabbed my brain from the excerpt. I stayed up late reading it and then read more the following morning when I ought to have been working.
If you like adventure stories, science fiction and romance, battles and hot attraction in the same narrative and a very quick but brainful read, this story will definitely appeal. And since the holiday season is flush with very short amounts of reading time (if you’re like me, there’s family everywhere and more coming through the door), this is an ideal escape that will give you plenty of adrenaline and attraction to feast on before it’s time to get back to your own planet.