Last week I reviewed the first two novellas in Holly Lisle's Tales from the Longview series. This week, I've read the other three and can't wait for the next one.
I had intended to devote a full post to each of the books, but while each novella is a stand-alone story, they are all interconnected and it would be hard to give a spoiler-free review. So I'll present the mini-blurb for each book and do an overall review.
I've already covered Born from Fire and The Selling of Suzee Delight. Here's the link.
The TALES FROM THE LONGVIEW Series Overview
Inhabited by a crew of misfits fleeing nightmare pasts, with a cargo of Condemned slated to die at the hands of the highest bidders, and with a passenger roster made up exclusively of people not who they claim to be, The Longview serves the hidden agenda of an eccentric recluse bent on playing puppet master to all of Settled Space.
IN EPISODE 1: Born From Fire (originally Enter the Death Circus)
When love is crime, who will save the guilty?
After falling in love and fathering a child, a young criminal refuses to voluntarily throw himself into a lake of fire to gain his community's forgiveness. So he's sentenced to death and sold to the owner of a spaceship that buys criminals like him. But the ship and its crew are not quite what they appear to be.
IN EPISODE 2: The Selling of Suzee Delight
When slavery is virtue, who will fight for vice?
When Suzee Delight, famous Cheegoth courtesan, murders the five most powerful Pact Worlds' Administrators during a private summit, the owner of The Longview Death Circus struggles against conspiracy to win the bidding for her execution. Meanwhile, Suzee’s powerless supporters race to save her, while the leaders of worlds pull strings to guarantee her death.
IN EPISODE 3: The Philosopher Gambit
When the mighty are monsters, what will monsters become?
An exiled philosopher buys a pretty girl a dress for her execution, by doing so becoming a hunted, wanted man with a death sentence on his own head and killers on his trail. The secretive owner of The Longview intervenes, putting his crew in harm's way to bring the condemned into his inner circle—but the hunters are close behind.
When freedom is silenced, who speaks for it?
Ex-PHTF slave WE-39R (This Criminal, from Episode 1), renamed Jex, is part of a team the Longview’s Owner has tasked with finding the meaning behind Bashtyk Nokyd’s enigmatic final diagram. Drawing the most undesirable assignment, Jex and an unlikely ally fight their way to pieces of the truth.
IN EPISODE 5: Vipers’ Nest
When betrayal comes home, where does home hide?
With no place to run and their complete and utter annihilation the enemy’s only objective, Bailey’s Irish Station and the Longview’s crew stand together against the onslaught of enemies visible and hidden.
CONCLUDING IN EPISODE 6
With the lies revealed, what future remains?
The location of the City of Furies is discovered, Shay has to choose between the Owner and Melie, and the path to freeing Settled Space and protecting everything that matters falls on those who never sought the task.
Born from Fire wasn't the most compelling book I've ever read, but it did enough to intrigue me, and keep me reading. That's quite an achievement in itself. Apart from the Holly Lisle books (these and their predecessors, Hunting the Corrigan's Blood and Warpaint which are full, 100k word novels) I also started two other books, one fantasy, one cosy mystery, both well-written. They both hit the DNF pile. They couldn't grab my interest. As you can see, Holly's books did.
The Selling of Suzee Delight upped the pace. I was hooked. The series is brim-full of believable sci-fi tech. One example is 'origami points'. Most space operas have a way of moving quickly through space, be it worm holes, warp drives, or multiple dimensions. Holly's version envisages folds in space much as a piece of paper is folded in the Japanese art of origami. A point is a place where the layers are thin and ships can travel through them – with a considerable cost to the psyches of the travellers. Ship movements through these points are tracked using Spybees.
The ships use AIs and nanotechnology – for good and evil – is everywhere. There are no aliens but Humankind throws up the very worst enemies. Nanotechnology has been used to create the most monstrous, evil villains I've ever come across.
The books are full of twists and turns and unexpected shocks. The stakes are high for individuals and for groups of people we come to care about. And for those who'd like some diversity, there's plenty of that, and more than a smattering of romance. No sex, though.
After I finished my first read of the series so far (and leaving aside the two books I DNFed) I bought the two Cadence Drake books (Hunting the Corrigan's Blood and Warpaint) which set the scene for the Longview series. I'll tell you more about them next time. Obviously you don't need to have read those two books before you read Tales from the Longview. Indeed, each novella in the Longview series is stand-alone, with enough backstory added to make sense.
Did I have a favourite? After Born from Fire, they're all very good, with the odds raised in each episode. But I did particularly like Gunslinger's Moon, where Holly goes into a bit of sociology and discussions about what motivates people – but in a very entertaining way. I found myself nodding. A lot.
And now I've finished this blog post, I'll go and read the series again. Because I'm like that.