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COMPLICATED by Colin Alexander


The Interstellar Life And Times Of Saoirse Kenneally

by Colin Alexander

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-9993257-8-0
Publisher: Alton Kremer

A young woman from a prominent 23rd-century Earth family avoids prison by enlisting in a term of off-planet service in Alexander’s SF novel.

Two centuries in the future, humankind has discovered reliable, faster-than-light space travel. No alien civilizations have been discovered yet, but there’s still plenty of danger, intrigue, and open warfare, due to humanity’s baser instincts. An underfunded, upstart military police force called “Peacemakers,” or “peacers,” tries to impose order and enact justice. On Earth, 20-year-oldSaoirse Kenneally, hailing from a clan that became wealthy by selling space-friendly computer technology, is a self-loathing alcohol abuser and troublemaker, though she draws the line at taking “zombie,” or “zombipterisin”—an addictive, extraterrestrial psychotropic drug. For her latest violation,which involves charges of attempted robbery and assault, Saoirse is disowned by her relatives but gets around serving jail time by accepting two years of off-world service. At a base orbiting Saturn’s moon Titan, she finds a degree of discipline and even sobriety via basic training and mentoring by Tomasz Szczechowicz, a battle-hardened, veteran peacer who’s closed-mouthed about his past and takes a strong personal interest in Saoirse. When she notes anomalies in the station’s computer records, she becomes part of the investigation; eventually she’s forced to flee even deeper into settled space, where she encounters a simmering conflict involving peacers on a colonized world. This novel’s resourceful, underdog protagonist, who’s inwardly tormented but always ready to fight, will remind readers a bit of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander—although Saoirse has a tattoo of a snake, not a dragon. It’s a somewhat formulaic story of a badly flawed protagonist gaining wisdom and maturity while wearing a uniform, but Alexander makes it earn its stripes. The future setting lacks cyborgs, godlike AIs, teleportation, or easy plot devices; rather, there are more relatable elements, including bullets, light planes, and microphones; the clever explanation is that the principle planetary setting has recreated an old Eastern European society, out of a sense of ethnic and cultural pride, and thus lacks modern gadgets. The finale features well-described, edge-of-your-seat combat and intelligent strategy.

A satisfying outer-space yarn of redemption under fire.