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Karin Lowachee
Warner Aspect, 451 pages

Art: Matt Stawicki
Karin Lowachee
Karin Lowachee's family moved from Guyana, South America to near Toronto, Ontario when she was about 2 years old. After university, she tried various jobs unrelated to writing, before being rejected from the graduate writing program at the University of British Columbia. Offered the chance, she went to Rankin Inlet on the west coast of Hudson Bay where she spent 9 months. Her novel, Warchild, won the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest.

Karin Lowachee Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Warchild
SF Site Interview: Karin Lowachee
Article: The Backburner Book
SF Site Excerpt: Warchild

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

Ontario writer Karin Lowachee won the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest for Warchild, and it's easy to see why. This is an intense coming-of-age story with strong characters, lots of action, and a great deal of underlying thought about the nature of loyalty in a complex and deeply flawed society.

Jos Musey is only eight years old when his world implodes around him. Pirates attack the merchant ship Mukidori, killing his family and taking the children to sell as slaves. Jos's good looks attract the abusive attention of the pirate captain, Falcone, who takes Jos as his personal slave. A year later, Jos seizes his first chance to escape, only to flee into the clutches of enemy aliens -- the striviirc-na, who are at war with EarthHub.

Jos is afraid of the striviirc-na because they're evil enemies... or are they? As he grows familiar with the aliens and their culture, Jos discovers that nothing about the war is straightforward and nobody is what they seem, including him. By the age of fourteen when he signs onto a Hub warship, his loyalties are hopelessly conflicted, but he does know one thing. He hates the pirate, Falcone, and he wants revenge at any cost.

Since I don't generally read war stories, I won't try to comment on the military aspects of this book, except that they all seemed reasonably credible to an inexpert reader such as me. Certainly, I liked the scenario itself -- an aggressive empire dragged by economics and posturing into a costly conflict whose only real beneficiaries are the pirates who prey on both sides. I was not enthused by the alien society which seemed derivative of Japan, and I found Jos a little too capable to be convincing as a fourteen year old, but these niggles did not distract me from the suspenseful story.

Warchild is an exceptional first novel and an excellent read.

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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