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Ann Aguirre
Ace, 320 pages

Ann Aguirre
Ann Aguirre was born in the Midwest. She attended Ball State University, where she received a degree in English Literature. She took on a series of rent-paying jobs while continuing to write. She has been a cook, a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, an admin assistant, an office manager, and for a while, she even worked for the phone company. Now she lives in Mexico and writes full time.

Ann Aguirre Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Michael M Jones

Until recently, Sirantha Jax was a superstar. Possessing a rare gene which allows a select few to jump ships through "grimspace," and thus vastly shorten interstellar travel time, she had it made, having made more jumps and discovered more planets than anyone else working for the Corp. But all jumpers burn out sooner or later, so she knew her time was finite. And then came the crash on Matins IV, an accident only which she survived. She was locked away, interrogated and tortured and left to rot. When help came, in the form of a telepathic pilot named March and his ragtag crew of malcontents, Jax escaped and joined them, seizing upon her only chance to stay alive.

Of course, now that she's free, it seems as though nothing at all is going the way it was planned. No sooner does the motley group, including a cranky mechanic, a pacifist savant, a mild geneticist, and the aforementioned telepathic pilot, reach their destination, then violence erupts as a deal goes bad. Surviving that, Jax learns that her new friends are dedicated to defying the Corp and developing their own breed of jumper to crack the Corp's monopoly on interstellar travel. They need her, because they might have the key to preventing the inevitable burnout. She needs them because of the implacable, unrelenting bounty hunters set on her path. And so begins a series of wild, perilous adventures that take Jax and her allies across the known worlds, from backwoods colonies to alien villages to a pirate's paradise, and finally to an ultimate reckoning against the Corp itself. Meanwhile, Jax can't help but get unsettlingly close to March, whose powers let him see past the attitude and bluster and scars, and right into her heart. But some heavy sacrifices will be made along the way, including their potential happiness, especially as they try to figure out what really happened to cause the crash on Matins IV. Will they be able to see this quixotic quest through to the end?

Grimspace is the sort of science fiction adventure that grabs you right from the beginning with an action-laced escape sequence, and proceeds to fire the afterburners for a long time afterwards, carrying the reader from one perilous situation to the next until you're well and truly caught up in the story. It's one thrill after another as our heroes fend off Corp security, a treacherous rival clan, and bloodthirsty alien critters, all before they have a chance to relax for a few minutes. And after that, well, it's surprises and twists and turns from one planet to the next as they challenge the odds and occasionally suffer unacceptable, necessary losses. Swept up in Jax's story, I couldn't put Grimspace down until I was done.

Sirantha Jax is a fascinating protagonist. Fearless, foul-mouthed, brash, independent, and severely broken on the inside, she won't let anyone -- or anything -- mess with her for long. She's got good reasons to hurt, but she doesn't wallow in her pity unnecessarily, accepting the need to change and grow as her experiences teach her, thus proving that at the core, she's really quite a strong character. Her chemistry with March is fun to watch, as she takes her measure of the telepath and gives plenty of attitude in return. Her relations with the rest of the tight-knit crew are equally fun, as she deals with their quirks and issues. My favorite of the secondary crew has to be Dina, the rough-and-tumble mechanic who always has an insult, snarky comment, or pointed truth to offer her friends, even as she works miracles with the ships that they use and abuse in their line of work. If Ann Aguirre ever decides to focus on Dina as a protagonist, I'll be one of the first in line to pick up the book.

Grimspace reminds me a lot of the cult-favorite TV series-turned-movie, Firefly, in terms of attitude and atmosphere and the ragtag band of hard luck adventurers struggling against the system. It also reminds me, in some way I can't quite finger, of S.L. Viehl's Stardoc series, especially when looking at the way Jax and March deal with one another, from their first uneasy interaction to their growing partnership. Put these elements together, along with all the other influences that Ann Aguirre has drawn upon, and you have a rip-roaring, attention-grabbing debut from an author who definitely has a lot of potential. I'm already hooked, and I'll be eagerly looking forward to whatever Aguirre does next.

Copyright © 2008 Michael M Jones

Michael M Jones enjoys an addiction to books, for which he's glad there is no cure. He lives with his very patient wife (who doesn't complain about books taking over the house... much), eight cats, and a large plaster penguin that once tasted blood and enjoyed it. A prophecy states that when Michael finishes reading everything on his list, he'll finally die. He aims to be immortal.

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