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James Alan Gardner
Avon EOS Books, 432 pages

James Alan Gardner
James Alan Gardner's first novel, Expendable, was published in 1997. Commitment Hour followed in 1998. A Canadian author, Gardner has honed his skills publishing short works in Amazing, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, On-Spec, and the Tesseracts anthologies. He has won numerous writing awards, including Grand Prize winner of the Writers of the Future Award (1989), as well as an Aurora Award for best short story (1990). His latest accolade is a 1997 Nebula nomination.

James Alan Gardner Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Commitment Hour
SF Site Review: Hunted
SF Site Review: Vigilant
SF Site Review: Commitment Hour
SF Site Review: Expendable
Excerpt from Commitment Hour
Excerpt from Expendable

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

A while ago, I gave an enthusiastic review to James Alan Gardner's novel Commitment Hour, so when I saw his name again, I picked up Hunted. This splashy space opera is a very different book than the thoughtful social SF novel I previously read, but it is nonetheless an equally entertaining read.

Edward York is tall, strong, handsome and the son of an admiral, but he's got a big problem. Unlike his perfect, brilliant twin sister, Edward is stupid. Only his father's influence gets him past the minimum IQ requirements to join the Explorer Corps, then after his sister dies on their terribly bungled first mission, he is exiled to a remote moon post.

Twenty years later Edward is unexpectedly evacuated by a navy ship, and then the unimaginable happens -- everyone else dies when the ship crosses into interstellar space, the jurisdiction of the super-advanced League of Peoples. These navy officers must have committed some heinous crime. And Edward, arriving alone at Celestia aboard this death ship, is catapulted into a vicious political cover-up whose seeds are in Edward's deeply buried past.

This is a fast-paced space opera, pulled tightly together by Gardner's terrific depiction of Edward as a frightened, reluctant hero who has suppressed all memories of his family's terrible secrets. Gardner also does a great job with the Mandasar, an intelligent ant-like race whose planet is being torn apart by a war between their queens, and the Balrog, a repulsive sentient parasite.

Many elements of this story are way over the top, but Gardner's strong, capable writing and compelling characters kept me glued to the pages.

Copyright © 2002 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at

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