Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hammered by Elizabeth Bear



cover - I like this cover. It's simple, it's stark. There is one person on it with a futuristic looking gun (totally SciFi). The only problem I have with this, is the color of the woman. She is supposed to be Native American...or rather native Canadian. Indian. Darker skinned - but this person is white, and going by her coloring I get the impression that she's blond, when the character is really supposed to be black hair with some white strands. I know publishing houses do this all the time, but they should really pay attention to the descriptions of the people in the book, and make the covers accordingly. Really - give us readers (and the writers) a break, huh?

I actually read this twice. Once a few years ago, maybe as much as five years ago. I remember remember I really wanted to read the sequels, but couldn't find them in the stores. This was when ALL my book shopping was done inside of bookstores. Recently I decided I needed to read the second and third novels in this trilogy - so I ordered them online. Then of course, after getting them, I was about to read the second book and realized that I didn't remember much of what happened in the third - most of the details anyway. I had a vague memory of the book, but not the whole thing. So I luckily found it. Now it's gone through two moves since I read it, so I'm lucky that I still had it, and secondly that it was easy for me to find. I still have some books packed away in some box somewhere in the garage. I also have a bookshelf in the garage, where some of my paperbacks are probably suffering from weather extremes. No room in the house. :(

Back to the review - enough of the side road down memory lane.

Hammered is about a 49 year old former veteran. A woman who has spent many years in the army and is left with an eye implant that helps her see in the dark, and of course, being scifi - lets her scan info with her eye. She also lost an arm and has a prosthetic cyber arm, that is connected to her spinal chord. This is a very simple description, but the bottom line is that she is in a lot of pain, has a lot of scar tissue - both on her face and in her brain and spinal chord. She's been hiding out in America from the Canadian Army. Not a deserter, but rather avoiding the military and trying to lay low, doing her own thing.

There is a gangster that has a complicated relationship with her. She took him under her wing when he was child of 12, and he's now a druglord, barely hanging on to his turf. Razorface. So called because he has razors implanted where his teeth should be. An interesting man. Obviously a criminal, but a charismatic character.

There is another woman, Elspeth, recently let out of prison - for treason (Canada). Put there because she refused to give up records concerning an Artificial Intelligence....the simple explanation. There's more to it. She is a computer genious.

Then there is the apparently sinister former commander of Jenny (the cyber-armed ex-military woman), Valens - who is now working for a company yet still has ties with the military. He is up to something - has some plans that need an artificial intelligence program and Jenny.

There is Gabriel - another former soldier. He has two daughters, one of them deathly ill with cystic fibrosis. He also happens to be a longtime friend of Jenny's.

A cop - who has gone off the deep end a bit, because his love was recently murdered...somewhere near Razorface's turf.

There are a few plots underfoot....and a starship being built.

What follows is a very interesting story with at least three intertwining plots that all come together in a storm - literally during a hurricane. Amazing storytelling, with many more characters than I listed. The novel went back and forth between the first person, present tense narration of Jenny to the third person past tense narration concerning all the other characters and their various plots, plans and schemes. Each character had a distinct personality.

If you're into SciFi, this is a great book to read. There is SciFi, futuristic action, starship, a base on Mars....apocalyptic conditions on Earth due to pandemic disease and war between countries. Amazing worldbuilding with a very interesting alternate history threaded through the story. As soon as I finished reading Hammered, I was ready for the second novel, Scardown.

Elizabeth Bear is a prolific writer. She's written fantasy such as the Promethian Age novels (I might the name of the series wrong) including Blood and Iron. Besides writing the Jenny Casey trilogy she's written a series of SciFi about a generational ship - Jacob's Ladder Trilogy. I have one of those books - Chill. I think it might be a bit over my head, though it's one of the later novels and I might need to start at the beginning. She's also the writer of By The Mountain Bound and many other novels and short stories. You can find a complete list of all at Elizabeth Bear's website. For an excerpt of Hammered click on the cover - it'll take you to Powell's books and an excerpt.

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