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This Alien Shore
by C.S. Friedman
DAW Books, 564 pages

Michael Whelan
This Alien Shore
C.S. Friedman
Born in 1957 and a voracious reader from her earliest days, Celia S. Friedman discovered science fiction at the age of 10. Now a full-time writer, she also designs period dress patterns for a historical supply company -- having previously taught Costume Design at a private university in northern Virginia.

ISFDB Bibliography
C.S. Friedman Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Charlene Brusso

I've eagerly picked up C.S. Friedman's novels ever since In Conquest Born, not only for her characters and story-telling skills, but also because she's the kind of author who promises to take me someplace new in each book, and manages to do so every single time. Her latest opens with the momentum of a rocket sled as young Jamisia Capra escapes her home aboard Shido Habitat orbiting Earth right before it is blown to smithereens by corporate raiders. A last message from her mentor raises more questions than it answers. Jamisia learns that she's been part of a highly secret, highly illegal experiment. The brainware in her head is different from the standard communication and data storage systems most "modded" people can access -- so different and so secret, in fact, that someone is willing to kill her to keep others from getting access to it.

Desperately searching brainware files and her own mysteriously scattershot memory, Jamisia learns there are more than a dozen distinct personalities living inside her brain, and no matter how much they argue with each other, they all agree that they deserve to exist and that she should trust them and do what they tell her to do for the survival of all.

In the meantime, a fierce computer virus called Lucifer is wreaking havoc throughout known space, killing the starship "outpilots" of the Outspace Guild and threatening their monopoly on galactic transportation. Centuries ago, when Earth first sent humans to the stars to establish colonies via ships using the Hausman drive, it didn't take long to discover something about that original stardrive caused bizarre mutations to those aboard. Just as Earth's colonies were getting started, Earth panicked, abandoning their own people -- mutants who came to be called "Hausman Variants" -- on foreign worlds and withdrawing to total isolation back on the home planet. Now the only safe way to cross deep space is by outpilot, for only they have the peculiar mutation which allows them to direct ships through the dangerous folds in spacetime called "Ainniq."

With pilots dropping right and left, minds ripped asunder by Lucifer, the Outspace Guild is doing everything it can to find and neutralize the culprits behind the sabotage. Worse yet, Outspace Guildmistress Prima Alya Cairo's agents have found, clues indicate that its source is within the Guild itself.

Of course, the Outspace Guild is also one of the factions hunting for Jamisia. Friedman's writing is top-notch, as usual, full of tense plotting, tangled intrigues, and memorable characters. Her settings, reminiscent of the workaday ships and stations in C.J. Cherryh's Known Space, feel truly lived in. A very slightly anti-climactic ending is buoyed by the hint of a sequel, which I'll be sure to make room for at the front of my "To Be Read" shelf.

Copyright © 1999 Charlene Brusso

Charlene's sixth grade teacher told her she would burn her eyes out before she was 30 if she kept reading and writing so much. Fortunately he was wrong. Her work has also appeared in Aboriginal SF, Amazing Stories, Dark Regions, MZB's Fantasy Magazine, and other genre magazines.

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