Thursday, July 26, 2018

Justice Calling, by Lyra Alice Schneider

★★★☆☆ Average

(Lost Colony SF Western; Lost Colonies) Sheriff Penny Lux struggles to save her planet from a young Firestarter, but the off-worlders who trained him don’t want to get involved, so she gets help from her reluctant ex-partner, who’s wanted for kidnapping (24,128 words; Time: 1h:20m)

Although this is the first story in a series, it stands alone quite well.

"Justice Calling," by (edited by Lyra Alice Schneider), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2018.413 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Pro: The strongest thing about this story is the setting. Look at all the elements we have on Klea:

  • A lost human colony that has partially regressed to 19th-century technology. 
  • Aliens offering high tech but only for religious converts.
  • Psionic powers.
  • A trans person who’s experiencing an unwanted reverse transition.

Penny Lux is a strong protagonist, even if she’s sometimes an unreliable narrator. Part of the fun of the story is the way our opinion of Arabellis gradually improves as we learn more about her.

There’s a good bit of tension, and a real shocker when we learn that the pyro is the same kid Arabellis “kidnapped.”

It’s worth keeping in mind that years on this world are about 1.7 Earth years long. So when Penny says Monks visited her home when she was 10, that’s really 17 of our years.

For the most part, the narration is unobtrusive and the dialogue is natural.

Con: But not entirely. There are a couple of places where the action stops for lengthy infodumps that end up unnecessary to the plot. There are characters introduced and described and then dropped.

Probably the worst problem is that the ending, which should be a high point of tension and excitement, keeps getting derailed by info dumps and editorializing.

Since this is the first part of a series, it leaves a number of loose ends.

A few smaller quibbles: are the Followers aliens or are they human beings? We only meet one, who seems to be 100% human, but the logic of the story made me expect non-humans.

The description of “Mooncross” seems to be dynamically impossible: a lunar transit that occurs every night, even though the innermost moon is not tidally locked.

It’s hard to believe that failure of the patch would cause Penny’s body to gradually transition back to male. Perhaps more seriously, it never matters to the plot. Penny mentions it now and then, but it doesn’t slow her down, and she’s not making any special effort to get a new patch, nor does anyone try to bribe her with one.

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