I did not read Games of Command before writing Starship Waking or Darkness Rising. I’m saying it right now, WHY? Well, this book is allegedly about courageous and plucky Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian and Admiral Branden Kel-Paten, the cyborg officer who falls in love with her, but it’s really about the furzels, the furry sidekicks that keep them from dying. (Sound familiar?) Okay, maybe it’s not really about the furzels, like my books aren’t really about Carl Sagan … maybe.
In the Games of Command universe, cyborgs designed for killing people are supposed to be incapable of love–Kel-Paten’s emotions are confined to useful feelings like the desire to squeeze someone by the neck until their eyeballs pop out. (Handy in board meetings!) But Kel-Paten’s gotten around his programming and has found ways to have a thoughts and feelings of his own between uploads. Some of those feelings that aren’t anger are jealousy towards the furzels (who on the cover are cats.) The furzels get lots of attention from Captain Sass, the object of his longing, and he wonders if it might not be better to be a furzel, considering they have it made in the easy- love-from-the-ladies department.
Furzels are also routinely neutered, so I would think the answer should be, “No,” but 6T9 wonders the same thing about werfles. (Granted, werfles aren’t routinely neutered.) I do feel like saying again, I didn’t read this book before writing mine!
But the furzels and werfles bring up an interesting trend: cute furry animals in sci-fi. There are treecats in the Honor Harrington series, Jonesy in Alien, and Spot in Star Trek (Cat in Red Dwarf is not cute, and I’m not going to mention him here … well, not without parentheses.) There is The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (because he knows no better), Lying Cat in Saga, and too many others to mention. There are also, dogs like Porthos. Does Pip count from Pip & Flinx? He may not be fuzzy or cute, but Pip’s definitely a worthy sidekick.
I think maybe the phenomena boils down to the fact that space is big and bad and scary–but somewhere deep in our heart of hearts, we know that if we bring our pets, it will be alright.
But back to the book … I liked it! It is a great adventure / mystery that keeps you guessing about who is bad and who is good. The main characters are also very likable and believable, and the setting varied and interesting. There is the comfort of cats, errr … furzels. If you wish sometimes that your sci-fi came with a little more romance (maybe you’re even mad at me for delaying 6T9’s happily ever after) I think you’ll like it. I also think you’ll like it if you like more spice than I typically write. (You know who you are “Do-you-have-to-fade-to-black-here?” Folks–also, the answer is yes, I do have to fade to black because I’m boring like that. And also, emotions to me are more porn than porn probably because I’m a Vulcan. Or a robot. My husband hasn’t decided, and I will never tell.)
I have picked up Linnea Sinclair’s An Accidental Goddess because I liked this book so much. Errr … but haven’t read it yet because I fell into a C.J. Cherryh well and I haven’t gotten out. (Maybe the humans are the cute-fuzzy sidekicks in the Foreigner series? We’re certainly small and causing problems…)