An acknowledged master of Dark Fantasy, Celia Friedman is a John W. Campbell award finalist, and the author of the highly acclaimed Coldfire Trilogy, New York Times Notable Book of the Year This Alien Shore, In Conquest Born, The Madness Season, The Wilding and The Magister Trilogy. Ms. Friedman worked for twenty years as a professional costume designer, but retired from that career in 1996 to focus on her writing. She lives in Virginia, and can be contacted via her website, www.csfriedman.com.
In a far-future interstellar society, star travel is monopolized by the Outspace Guild, which controls the only method of faster-than-light travel that doesn't result in horrible mutations among the star travelers. Now a deadly software virus is attacking Guild members, so the Guild's investigators, led by Dr. Masada, must learn where it came from and how to defeat it before interstellar society breaks down. Meanwhile, a young woman, Jamisia Shido, has to flee for her life from a space habitat near Earth, where all mutations are forbidden and launched, if discovered, into Guild-controlled interstellar space. Secret illegal therapy for a disaster that killed her parents has left Jamisia with an acute form of multiple-personality disorder‘and may have made her the key in the fight against the virus. The plot of this stout novel is simple, with few really original details, and the Guild and Jamisia subplots fail to connect until far into the story. Still, Friedman (the Coldfire trilogy) keeps her tale moving at a vigorous pace that's boosted through an abundance of well-chosen details, such as those accruing to the characterization of Jamisia's unruly guest personality. The novel may read like a cross between cyberpunk and Star Wars, but it is likely to hold readers' interest tenaciously. The ending neither requires nor precludes a sequel, so readers are left with some hope of again encountering Jamisia and the duel between the Guild and Earth that backdrops her adventures. (Nov.)