Ann Aguirre's debut print novel, GRIMSPACE, will be released Feb/26, mass market, paper, ACE Books.
It's available for pre-order at Amazon.com.
I won an ARC of Grimspace in one of those pull-names-like-rabbits-out-of-hats contests, because, from the review the novel promised all those things I like to see in a book.
And, oh dearie me, it does.
The SF background is sufficiently hard, the world building is sufficiently complete, the stakes are sufficiently high and story contains a romance.
All presented in precise, adroit balance.
And of course, for my taste, it's a great title.
Grimspace is not only the name of the space-time which the jumper inhabits in navigation mode between space beacons but also reflects the inner turmoil and anguished memories that the main characters must wrestle, endure and contain.
Aquirre handles the psychological reality of this headspace with effective accuracy. A vital point for me.
I am very fond of first person narrative. I am not fond of present tense. However, I was well into chapter three before I realised the story is told in present tense -- which says a lot for Aguirre's skill.
As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through space -- a talent that 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.
Imprisoned and subjected to 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 frighters 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 might as well have some fun in the meantime...
Furthermore, the back cover summary quoted above and the various endorsements ( Sirantha Jax doesn't just leap off the page -- she storms out...) do not mislead the reader about the book's style and content.
And I concur absolutely with another succinct endorsement, one by Linnea Sinclair, which says A tightly-written, edge-of-your-seat read with intense characterization... especially since I caught myself flipping to the end because I had to know if Jax made it -- I couldn't stand the tension.
As a writer and on reflection, I could probably pick holes here and there, but as a reader I enjoyed the novel. Thoroughly. Tremendously.
And that, I think, is the point.