Saturday, July 9, 2011

Reviews: Fledgling, Saltation, and Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Here is a brief look at the most recent three books in the Liaden Universe series. These tell the story of Theo Waitley who is a child of Delgado and a genetic daughter of Jen Sar Kiladi who just so happens to be Daav yos'Phelium in the greater world seeking balance for the murder of his lifemate.

The story of how these books came to be written is almost as interesting as the stories within each book. Here is a part of the story in the authors' own words.
Fledgling is a child born of necessity, fostered onto the internet, and left to soar.
In December 2006 it became clear that Meisha Merlin was going under leaving Lee and Miller owed a considerable amount of money. Since MM still had rights to the main line Liaden stories, Sharon and Steve had to come up with something different to raise some money. They decided to write a sideline story in the Liaden Universe live on the net. They said that they would write and post a chapter on the internet on Jan. 22, 2007. If readers wanted more they would need to make $300  in donations. Each $300 would mean another chapter. They also said that any individual who donated $25 or more would get a print version of the book if a print version was ever done. They didn't know if it would work or if there was enough interest to fund these chapters. They thought they would start off strong but that interest would trickle off.

They were surprised to find that they had secured enough donations by the end of December to fund 10 chapters. By the time the first chapter was posted they had received funding for twenty weekly chapters. I know I was in and was very excited when each new chapter was posted.

The next thing that happened was that Meisha Merlin returned the rights to the books to Sharon and Steve and Baen Books expressed an interest in publishing Fledgling and other books in the Liaden Universe.

Fledgling (2009)
Theo Waitley has lived all her young life on Delgado, a Safe World that is home to one of the galaxy's premier institutions of higher learning. Both Theo's mother, Kamele, and Kamele's onagrata Jen Sar Kiladi, are professors at the university, and they all live comfortably together, just like they have for all of Theo's life, in Jen Sar's house at the outskirts of town.

Suddenly, though, Theo's life changes. Kamele leaves Jen Sar and moves herself and Theo back into faculty housing, which is not what Theo is used to. Once settled back inside the Wall, Kamele becomes embroiled in faculty politics, and is appointed sub-chair of her department. Meanwhile, Theo who has a notation in her file indicating that she is "physically challenged," has a series of misadventures, including puuling her best friend down on the belt-ride to class, and hurting a team mate during a scavage game.

With notes piling up in her file, Theo only wants to go "home", to the housr in the suburbs, and have everything jist like it used to be.

Then, Kamele uncovers evidence of possible dishonest scholarship inside of her department. In order to clear the department, she and a team of senior professord must go off-world to perform a forensic document search. Theo hopes this will mean that she'll be left in the care of the man she calls "Father", Professor Kiladi, and is horrified to learn that Kamele means to bring Theo with her!
After meeting Theo on Delgado and learning about Delgado, we see her voyage of discovery as she goes with her mother to Melchiza. Theo meets and interacts with Scouts who recognize her as a potential pilot and teach her some of the things pilots should know. We meet her friend Win Ton yo'Vala who is a scout trainee traveling with an older scout. We also learn that the world is a much more dangerous place than Theo ever knew or could imagine. 

Saltation (2010)
Theo, star pilot wannabe and troubled misfit has been accepted, against all her expectations, to Anlingdin. It’s the Hogwarts of star piloting academies, and Theo has been selected to train there with the best-of-the-best.  Even better – she can finally leave behind the gawky, misfit days of teenage angst her previous life so complicated before. Great Liaden star pilots are born with a bang and not a whimper–and Theo has set a course to graduate from misfit to genuine maverick.
In this story we see Theo learning to be a pilot. She has been sponsored into the piloting school by the senior scout she met in Fledgling. She wants to do well both for her and for her own pride. Being a pilot is what she wants to do with her life. However, her single-minded approach doesn't leave much time for making friends or for noticing the difficult political situation brewing on the planet. After a number of problems, she is suspended from the Academy (but not before she has earned her second class license0 and gone to work as an apprentice pilot which expands her learning of piloting and the greater universe all the more. 

She also accepts a gift from her friend Win Ton that turns out to be the key for an Old Tech ship that is seen as a prize by the Department of the Interior and an object to be destroyed by the Liaden Scouts. Win Ton is captured and tortured by the Department of the Interior but doesn't surrender Theo's location or the key. When Win Ton finds her to tell her was has occurred Theo knows that she has found a problem big beyond her ability to solve and that must be brought to the Delm of Korval.

Ghost Ship (2011)
New novel in the Liaden Universe® series.  Over a quarter million copies sold in this series to-date!  Space ships, action, adventure – all tied together with a strong dollop of romance and family saga – make this a compelling series for a wide range of readers, from romance to military SF lovers alike.

Theo Waitley is an ace starship pilot – and pure maverick.  Her mom is a renowned Terran scholar and her birth father is an interstellar aristocrat in hiding. Whatever, thinks Theo.  She still feels like a socially-challenged misfit.  But after being selected to train with the best-of-the-best at the pilot academy, she figures she can leave behind those gawky, misfit days of teenage angst that made life so complicated before!   But for Theo, life is about to get even MORE complicated – and deadlier still.  For even though she’s survived the Academy and become one of the best pilots in the galaxy, the past is about to blast her with gale-force winds.  Theo can run, but she can’t hide.  Her destiny as master pilot and leader of a powerful Liaden clan calls, and there are LOTS of enemies who will try to make sure she’s quite dead before she has the chance to make an answer.
This is the product description for the third in the series of books about Theo Waitley. It is pretty accurate if you discount the "leader of a powerful Liaden clan" bit. Theo isn't the leader; her brother Val Con and his lifemate Miri Robertson are. Theo isn't even very sure that she wants to be part of the clan even though her father is.

Theo has gone to Korval, reconnected with her father, and met the rest of her family. She also finally connects  with the ship Bechimo which wants her for its captain. The ship is hundreds of years old and combines Old Tech and more modern tech. The ship is an Artificial Intelligence. Most people, including the Liaden Scouts, are opposed to these AIs because previous incarnations have gone insane and killed millions.

The danger is very real. The Department of the Interior is rapidly reorganizing and its priority of destroying Korval is intact. Korval and Theo have to fight off attacks by the Department on Surebleak and on Theo's space missions.

This series is a grand undertaking. After reading it again, I am reminded of how wonderful it is. I always get caught up in the world and the characters. The characters are strong, unique, and easy to identify with. The writers have a way of making me care about these people. The ending of Ghost Ship has me hoping strongly that I won't have to wait very long to find out what happens next in the Liaden Universe.

I am hoping that Sharon and Steve have a long, productive relationship with Baen Books.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love getting comments. Let me know what you think.

This blog is now officially declared an Award Free zone! I do appreciate your kindness in thinking of me and I am humbled by your generosity.

Your comments are award enough for me. Comment away!