Killing Gravity by Corey J. White
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is the author's first book...and unfortunately it shows. I took a chance on it because I like Tor's new novella line. I've bought several excellent stories from it, but this isn't one of them.
Mariam "Mars" Xi (and that's the first problem--"Mars" is underwhelming as a character name, to say the least) is a psion on the run. She was created (or maybe enhanced--not really clear on that--but definitely experimented on) by a corporation called MEPHISTO, who are moving heaven and earth, and are willing to kill a great many people, to get her back. She is a voidwitch, a telekinetic who can do just about anything, from vaporizing human heads to hurling asteroids to crushing spaceships.
Now, I like psi powers as well as anyone, but Mars is so overblown as to be boring. Nothing can stop her, it seems, and as I followed her on her rampages, I kept wishing this psychic Superwoman would run up against some Kryptonite. There is some handwaving about her powers giving her migraines, but it doesn't amount to much, and certainly didn't make me think she was in any real danger. Limits are a good thing in stories like these, and I wish the author had given some thought to this.
Speaking of handwaving: the science in this is more than a little wonky. In this universe, FTL flight is achieved by the generation of artificial wormholes. It's specifically stated that "a wormhole always brings some gravity from its starting point," a bit of exposition that comes into play during the climactic final battle, when Mars jumps her ship from the edge of a black hole to the middle of the enemy fleet...and dragging the black hole's crushing gravity with her through the wormhole takes out a good number of the enemy ships.
I don't know about you, but I don't think either wormholes or black holes (or for that matter gravity) work like that. I suppose it's about as plausible as the ubiquitous "hyperspace" of most space opera--which is to say, not plausible at all--but this made me roll my eyes and mutter, "Oh, come on." It jolted me right out of the story.
Having said all that, there are a few pluses to this book. The pacing is good, the action scenes are suspenseful and tightly written, and Mars' pet Seven, which sounds like a cross between a very small cat and a sugar glider, is delightful. I want one! Unfortunately, for me the problems in this book mount up to the point where I don't feel inclined to read the sequel.
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