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Crossfire
Nancy Kress
Tor, 368 pages

Crossfire
Nancy Kress
Nancy Kress was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1948. She went to college at State University of New York at Plattsburgh, receiving a degree in Elementary Education, and spent four years teaching the fourth grade. Her first sale was a story, "The Earth Dwellers," to Galaxy in 1976. Her first novel, The Prince of Morning Bells, appeared in 1981. Nancy Kress moved on to write copy for an advertising agency, wrote fiction part-time, raised her children, taught at SUNY Brockport, and earned an M.S. in Education and an M.A. in English. In 1990 she became a full-time writer. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Nancy Kress Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Probability Space
SF Site Review: Maximum Light
SF Site Review: Savior
SF Site Review: Probability Moon
Interview: Nancy Kress
SF Site Review: David Brin's Out of Time: Yanked!
SF Site Review: Stinger
SF Site Review: Maximum Light
SF Site Review: Beaker's Dozen

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

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One of the greatest gifts an author can give you is uncertainty. Exceedingly rare are the novels you can find wherein you don't know the outcome long before you finish the book, but Nancy Kress is one of those singular authors who fools you at every turn. Fools you if you are so rash as to try to guess the outcome of the next scene or the next chapter, much less the ending. What a treat to be surprised again and again, for once.

Crossfire finds a shipful of interstellar refugees from a rapidly self-destructing Earth en route to an uninhabited planet where they have modest to radical plans for starting over. Aboard the Ariel the atmosphere is a bit edgy as some travellers attempt to make as much of the voyage out of stasis as possible; a dangerous situation under the best of conditions and these are not the best. But, despite a few crises on the way, the passengers reach Greentrees safely and prepare themselves to build their new civilisation.

Unfortunately, there is a slight hitch in their designs: another sentient species is already occupying parts of their pristine new planet. To make matters worse, it is obvious that the others were transplanted to Greentrees. And with every new thing they learn about the humanoids, the danger level rises. With the introduction of a third species of very alien aliens, the settlers find themselves directly in the line of fire in a thousand-year-old war. Unless they can find a way to stop the war, their pioneering venture, and possibly their species existence, is going to be cut quite short.

Kress is a master of storytelling, so you can rest assured that characters will never be forgotten in the complex plot and setting. Even more complicated are the relationships among the divergent groups and the conflict within each settler. From expedition founder Jake Holman and the dark, devastating secret he carries to the ever peaceful, often maddening, Dr. Shipley who "leads" the New Quakers to the mystifying aliens of both races, Crossfire is populated with fascinating, flawed characters. And the next move of any of these beings is as impossible to predict as the next turn of the narrative.

Crossfire is a story of seemingly endless wars, both without and within. Human beings have never been able to peacefully co-exist with each other, without throwing unknown quantities into the mix. The greater struggle though, takes place deep inside each person on Greentrees as they grope for understanding, tolerance, and a framework they can live with peacefully. Given the secrets hidden in the pasts of many of the characters, it will be astonishing if they survive the struggle.

What motivates us? How far will each of us go to obtain our dreams? And will we be able to live with the results of our action or inaction? All of these are questions Kress addresses in honest, unflinching fashion with each new novel. It's a dilemma that eternally haunts us and the engine that makes her novels so damn irresistible.

Copyright © 2003 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction, horror, dark realism, and humour. DARKERS, her first novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She is a contributing editor at SF Site and for BLACK GATE magazine. Lisa has also written for BOOKPAGE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Science Fiction Weekly, and SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.


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