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REVIEW

"A worthy beginning to a new romantic SF series"

Sirantha Jax carries the rare J-gene which allows her to be a Jumper, able to navigate spaceships through Grimspace, a galactic by-pass which significantly reduces travel time between two points in space. She works for the Farwan Corporation also known as the Corp, which currently holds a monopoly on the Jumpers. Grimspace is like a drug, though intoxicating it also takes its toll on the Jumper. Burnout generally overtakes them after a decade of jumps. Those who are lucky, retire before they hit their last jump. After twelve years on the job Sirantha knew she was approaching the end of her career but instead of going out in a blaze of glory, her lastest jump had gone terribly wrong. She now finds herself imprisoned in the Corp psych ward, after crashing the "Sargasso" on Matins IV; killing her crew as well as the passengers on a routine diplomatic mission, seventy five in all. Jax is the only survivor.

Jax is devastated and confused. She had lost Kai, her pilot, friend, and lover in the crash. Jumpers and their pilots had a symbiotic relationship. A Jumper's pilot was her eyes during a jump; this created a bond between them which often enhanced by sexual energy. He was gone now. There was no one left to help her determine what had gone wrong with the flight, and the Corp. psychiatrists were doing their best to convince her that she alone had been at fault for the crash. She has no memory of what occurred following the jump, so she cannot even defend herself and interrogations have driven her half mad when she receives an unauthorized visitor who promises to break her out if she will assist his band of rebels break the Corp. monopoly on jumping. Having no other options Jax decides to take her chances with the man who goes by only March.

It is an awkward alliance as March had lost his half-sister in the crash and another crew member had lost her lover, the Jumper who had brought them here, to spring Jax. When their pilot is killed during the escape attempt, March steps forward to partner with Jax for the remaining jumps on their mission, which is to discover untapped talent in worlds that had been ignored by the Corp. and establish and independent school for jumpers with Jax as a trainer. Unfortunately the Corp. has too much to hide to let their scapegoat fly the coup without taking the blame for the crash on Matins IV.

Complicating matters further is the fact that March has his own psi abilities which no one on his crew is aware of but become immediately apparent to Jax when they jack in for their first jump. He is in her mind and is able to see Grimspace through her eyes. At first she is aware when he reads her mind by his reactions but as time goes on she becomes attuned to his intrusions and eventually the two are able to communicate with each other without speech, a first for him as well. Add to that the inevitable Jumper/Pilot bond and things heat up pretty quickly between the pair.

Making things even worse is the fact that the Corp. is only one step behind them and the worlds they visit will soon pay the price for harboring them, willingly or not and at some point Jax has to decide whether participation in a cause which is not her own is worth the cost.

All in all this was a worthy first novel for Ann Aguirre. I found myself completely engrossed, never knowing what I would find when I turned the next page. The characterizations were great. The tension between Jax and her new crew is realistic as is her love/hate relationship with March. Each of them has something to contribute to Jax's "education" teaching her about courage, compassion, appreciation for self-sacrifice etc. This is a whole new world for Jax. Although she soon sees past her Corp. conditioning, there are many times when she feels like she might just be better off back in the psych ward. Throughout the novel however Jax grows as a person, learning that she is more than just a jumper. She uses her mind, her emotions and her considerable wits to deal with each new situation that is thrown at her. In doing so, she wins the hearts of her crew and especially March, who soon realizes that in spite of everything she's put them through, life without her is not worth living. The ending was a bit abrupt which is tolerable because we know that the story doesn't end here, we will see more of Sirantha Jax in the sequel WANDERLUST. I for one can hardly wait to see what she does next.

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted July 7, 2008

SUMMARY

**2008 PEARL NOMINEE - BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY**

By all accounts, Sirantha Jax should have burned out years ago…

As the carrier of a rare gene, Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace—a talent which cuts into her life expectancy, but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. But then the ship she’s navigating crash-lands, and she’s accused of killing everyone on board. It’s hard for Jax to defend herself: she has no memory of the crash.

Now imprisoned and the subject of a ruthless interrogation, Jax is on the verge of madness. Then a mysterious man breaks into her cell, offering her freedom—for a price. March needs Jax to help his small band of rogue fighters break the Corp monopoly on interstellar travel—and establish a new breed of jumper.

Jax is only good at one thing—grimspace—and it will eventually kill her. So she may as well have some fun in the meantime…

 

Grimspace
(Sirantha Jax: Book 1)
by Ann Aguirre

Ace Books
February 1, 2008
Available: February 26, 2008
ISBN #0441015999
EAN #9780441015993
320 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Ann Aguirre

Devil's Punch
Shady Lady
Killbox
Hell Fire
Blue Diablo
Wanderlust


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