ANN AGUIRRE – Wanderlust. Ace, paperback original; 1st printing, September 2008.

   I have no idea why I started this, the second in a six book series, before reading the first one, Grimspace, but somehow that is exactly what I managed to do. It didn’t seem to matter, though. Whatever I didn’t understand in terms of what happened in the first one, I ignored and plunged blithely on, and enjoyed myself immensely, surprisingly so.

   The leading protagonist throughout the series is a “jumper” named Sirantha Jax, but she’s not alone in her adventures. She has a entire crew of fellow shipmates, each of whom has their own identity and individual contributions to the cause. Allow me to be sketchy on the details, but March, her lover, is a telepath who is always politely in her head, but is left behind partway through this adventure. Others include an genetically enhanced fighter; an alien who wears the skin of a human; an mechanic who may also be an heiress; and another pilot, female, who joins them midway through this one, about the same time March is left behind.

   It seems as though Sirantha is the focal point of trouble wherever she goes — and that’s Trouble with a capital T. In Book One, she was responsible for bringing down the Farwan Corporation, which had ruled known space for quite some time, and thus putting the Conglomerate in control. At the beginning of Book Two (this one), they appoint her as ambassador to a planet that is making hints of leaving the Conglomerate.

   I have the feeling that the six books are all one long novel, and this is Chapter Two. It begins at Point A, as just described, and continues to Point B, the planet to which Sirantha is sent on her way.

   And in between? All kinds of captures and narrow escapes: landing on a emergency space station controlled by vicious man-eating aliens; being trapped in the middle of a civil war on their next port of call, initiated by their own arrival; and being held prisoner by the Syndicate, a science-fictional version of the Mob which thrives on chaos in the galaxy, not peaceful co-existence between worlds.

   Sirantha Jax tells her own story in a delightfully sassy and punkish sort of way. Again the details don’t matter all that much. What’s fun is the reading of what’s otherwise a good old-fashioned space opera/romance, gritty but without all of the military trappings so many authors think I’m interested in. I’m not.

   PS. A jumper is a space pilot who plugs her mind into the ship’s controls to help guide it through grimspace, an ability that also seems to be killing her in this adventure.

       The Sirantha Jax series —

1. Grimspace (2008)
2. Wanderlust (2008)
3. Doubleblind (2009)

4. Killbox (2010)
5. Aftermath (2011)
6. Endgame (2012)