A fun tale about the perils of voyaging through space to earn an honest buck with a meaningful important message…
“In the already established ‘Quantum’ universe comes a tale of the unexpected and it might be the best of the series so far. Although initially set on the planet of Deanna we are introduced to P.I Timasket Skooch who happens to win the deeds of a ‘Loderunner’ ship during a card game.
From the early stages of this story Christina Engela makes great efforts to not only tell a story with wide appeal but also includes a powerful inclusive message about the subject of transphobia and embracing who you really are on the inside. In this book particular its a subject that runs as one of the main themes; our main character ‘Tim’ shares a relationship with ‘Dory’ – a woman for all we know but in pre-transition. This subject as a whole doesn’t particularly matter for ‘Tim’ who see’s ‘Dory’ as much more.
Leaving his significant other behind ‘Tim’ sets out into the depths of space with an assembled multi character crew on his newly acquired ship in search of earning a buck or two. I particularly enjoyed the depth of character quality in the crew and it made for another crucial element of this book. They agree to take a pair of passengers who appear to be more than what they appear and again the powerful gender message follows while being intertwined with mystery and deception (saying any more would involve spoilers).
What ensues is a story with a powerful meaning along with the usual fun moments Engela is known for, space stories really are her speciality and the setting makes the writing feel very much at home.
“Does age define the ability to suffer?” A question which best describes the theme in the book and it’s done in a way that doesn’t feel preachy or even like a protest but more so with deeper meaning. By the end of this book I found myself rooting for the characters who deserved the resolve they gffot. Overall a fun meaningful read. 5 stars” – Lee Hall, UK writer & reviewer, Oct 4, 2019.
Interesting Alternative Sci-fi
This is another tale in transgendered author Christina Engela’s space series and once again based on and around the planet Deanna; an isolated human colony whose sun is called Ramalama and its twin moons, Ding and Dong (a local joke!).
Timaset Skooch is down on his luck. His Pivate Eye business is not doing so well and so he turns to a game of cards to try and keep his mind off his problems. Unfortunately though he wins big, he is promptly mugged. Fortunately, the muggers leave him with the deeds to a cargo ship he has won. A loderunner owned by a local Captain. Unfortunately, Skooch knows nothing about Loderunning…..
In a bid to try and recap his lost winnings, Skooch arranges a series of cargo runs which includes a herd of the square cattle that Deanna is known to breed (easier to store, these cattle nonetheless have a habit of falling over and not being able to get up ~ lord help you if you are underneath at the time!). He also arranges through a local Mafia boss to escort some passengers to a planet back in the home system in the region of Earth. And that is where his problems really begin…..
Because Skooch’s passengers are not what they seem. A point that is made clear when the ship he is supposed to be transporting them to opens fire on Skooch and his loderunner!
This is an interesting sci-fi tale with lots of fun and humour but which radically addresses the whole nature of Gender and what it means to be male/female and every combination of the two. Engela’s transgenderism obviously plays a big part here; Skooch is engaged to a transvestite, convinced he should be a woman. Skooch’s best friend is engaged to a woman who once was a man and one of their passengers also has questions of gender. For those easily offended and not interested in such subjects, this book then should probably be avoided.
But that would be a shame because this is actually quite good sci-fi! Okay, the transgender issue here feels a bit forced down your throat (no pun intended) and there seems to be a LOT of gender-bending going on in such a small area of space but this is an issue that has had its feet in Engela’s work in the past even if not quite this heavily before.
I found that the heavy transgender angle actually distracted here from what was actually quite a clever story. If it had not been quite so blatant though, I think it would have made this novel better! Like I say, I don’t have a problem with it but there do seem to be a lot of transgender characters in this little corner of the universe and that at times strains credibility seeing as they make up only a small part of Earth’s population. Unless you take the opinion that maybe the reason there are so many out here is because they have either been forced to leave Earth or left because of heavy gender prejudice?!?
This is not alluded to however and is just me trying to fill in the gaps. Regardless, aside from all that this is actually not a bad book and it is good to be back on Deanna again which is one of my favourite locales in Engela’s work.
It is only a shame that she has not written much more than the books of hers I have reviewed but then judging at how she has used this particular book as her soapbox maybe that is a good thing. Less, like they say, is sometimes more!” – Mark Woods – UK writer & reviewer.