Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy

3 Apr
Sara Creasy popped up on my radar months ago after reading someone’s blog (my memory is terrible) praising her to the heavens. Song of Scarabaeus was nominated for some awards in 2010, and I heard that her story was akin to Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax books. Personally, I love me some space operas. I’m not usually a science fiction person, but for some reason when it’s in space, I’m in. Add in some suspense and a touch of romance, and we are good to go!

Edie is a cypherteck, someone who can tap into technology and “see” its code and alter it for her purposes (Creasy does a much better job of explaining this skill). Drafted into service as a child by the Crib empire, a sort of ruling conglomerate that makes the universe a “safer and more hospitable” place, Edie is pretty out of touch with the world around her and her own wants and desires. (The Crib actually reminded me a lot of the Alliance from Firefly, in that it publicly espouses a more civilized, peaceful world for its inhabitants while it simultaneously and ruthlessly takes over “fringe” worlds.) When she is kidnapped by mercenaries wanting to use her skills to aid their mission, Edie is initially defiant but comes to realize that this might be her only way out of the Crib. However, also complicit in her kidnapping is Finn, a slave with a mysterious past. When they are tethered together through cyberlinks in their brains, they must rely on each other to figure out who to trust, how to free themselves, and whose side to fight on.

This book was really fascinating. It was chockablock full of details to ponder. I really loved all the techie stuff, usually SO not my bag, but Creasy has a way of making it sound interesting and understandable. I lie – I spaced out a few times, but that’s because I am a word person, not a number person, and my brain hurts when I try to delve into that stuff too much. But honestly, I couldn’t believe how well Creasy wove the technology into the world-building and plot.

There was also a lot about class and identity in that there is a huge group of subjugated laborers who are essentially slaves. They are treated as less than people, even drugged and dehumanized to the point where they are simply a body providing free labor. It was so, so disturbing to read about, and even characters that seemed to inhabit the “good” side of the moral character line were dismissive and cold toward the serfs. I thought that was a nice touch – slavery was so accepted, so a part of this future culture that there was no clearly defined boundary where people with a conscience hated slavery and evil people accepted it. Much more realistic, if you ask me.

Edie and Finn were great characters. Finn takes a long time to unfold, having been imprisoned, tortured, and humiliated for years – it’s understandable that he doesn’t reveal much of himself. But, as he comes to trust Edie’s skill and she proves herself to be sympathetic to his, well, identity as a human being, their bond grows from reluctant accomplices, to friends, to something a little bit more. Creasy ends with a cliffhanger – not one of those really annoying ones where you’re left unsatisfied. Creasy has a sequel, Children of Scarabaeus, out now and I am all over it so I can find out what happens.

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