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WesternSFA
The Unincorporated Woman
By Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
Tor Books, 2011, $26.99, 412pp
Release Date: August 16, 2011

For blood-and-thunder space opera, this is the series to be reading. There is plenty of hard SF technical and engineering foreplay, while the plot is one climax after another. The only trouble is not giving away any spoilers in a review. The Kollin brothers very wisely do not let a single human protagonist define the series; the actual “protagonist” is the evolutionary process of individual freedom, which sure as the speed of light doesn’t happen randomly.

In a future where all of humanity has been incorporated, so that each infant is born into a tight meshed system of debts, credits, and obligations, one man, Justin Cord, was revived from a cryochamber and, because he was no part of the status quo, unintentionally became an agent of change. The idea of freedom was so powerful that thousands, millions gave up their security and even their lives to make it a possibility.

In a top-flight story – and this is definitely top-flight – it’s never as simple as “we’re all right, you’re all wrong.” In this story, decent people get suborned, misinformed, or manipulated; others do bad things competently, or incompetently undertake to do good things. As a reader, you are going to have favorite characters, both to love and to hate, and you are comfortable with your judgments. At some point, the authors are probably going to say or do something which totally disrupts your complacency and propels you from your comfort zone.

At the beginning of this, the third installment, the rebellion Alliance is in trouble, and for a while it does nothing but get worse. Not only are key leaders eliminated from play, entire support systems are destroyed by well-timed attacks. General Black is needed on the front, but President Black is needed in the council chamber; and since both General and President are the same person, J.D. Black needs to find someone to keep the President’s seat warm and free her up for the serious work of winning some victories for the beleaguered Alliance . But it needs to be someone who won’t joggle her elbow. The solution? Revive another unincorporated person! Behold: Dr. Sandra O’Toole, scientist, inventor – and an unexpectedly astute politician.

As intimated, the plotting is fantastic. What makes this series brilliant, however, is the masterful deployment of dramatic irony. The utterly unexpected keeps happening to everybody: a quiet, unassuming and very mediocre person becomes a religious authority for the entire galaxy; political and military rivals know each other’s faults, flaws, and motives to a letter – except both are wrong; battles are lost scant moments before help can arrive; worms turn and figureheads turn out to have brains and intestinal fortitude. The reader is in the privileged position to know truths that no single character ever discovers. This is what the omniscient voice is for!!!!

Whether it’s politics, epic drama, ideas or action that light your fire, this book has plenty of what you need. ~~ Chris R. Paige, Tucson , AZ.

For another review of The Unincorporated Woman click here.

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