Ray Gun Reviews
SF/F reviews — and ray guns!

Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy

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Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy
Eos Books, 2010, 354pp.
ISBN 978-0-06-193473-5

Edie is a biocyph, a young woman who has trained since childhood to control the complicated biotech systems that terraform worlds. She’s the best at what she does, having already terraformed eighteen worlds for the Crib, the core worlds of humanity, but she questions the good will of her employers. Then she’s kidnapped by a group of “free traders” who hope to use her abilities to hijack the Crib’s terraforming technology and sell it to the Fringe, former rebel worlds where the threat of planetary reversion is used by the Crib to keep a stranglehold on their development. To keep Edie subservient, the pirates hardwire her internal hardware to a prisoner-turned-slave, Finn. If she gets too far from him, he dies. Edie must form an alliance with her unwilling bodyguard if both of them are to survive.

Song of Scarabaeus is Sara Creasy’s first novel, though you wouldn’t guess it by reading it. The future Creasy has invented is well developed, creating a rich environment in which she tells her story. The story is definitely the key here, though, with a fast-moving plot. From her abduction onward, more and more challenges face Edie.

She doesn’t trust the pirates who abducted her. She wants to trust Finn, but doesn’t know if she can. She faces threats to her life from eco-terrorists, who oppose terraforming and everyone involved in it. The Crib do not want to let Edie go, even though she is not sure she wants to return to her former life. Her former supervisor is hunting her down. Her abductors’ goal is the site of Edie’s only failure as a terraformer, the planet Scarabaeus. And then someone seems to be sabotaging the pirates’ mission from the inside…

The characters are for the most part as complex as the galaxy they inhabit. The pirates are not painted with broad strokes — they each have a reason why they live that lifestyle. And then there is the enigmatic, silent Finn. Finn and Edie slowly open up more and more to each other, and they realize that they need each other for more than just their mutual survival.

There are times when I wish Creasy would slow down a little and let us look a little more closely at the marvelous universe she’s created. Edie controls terraforming technology through a type of cyberpunk mental world. I would love to have a better image of what that internal/computer world is like for Edie. But if these are faults, they are minor ones. The fact that I want to read more about Creasy’s world is a sign that the author has done a lot of things right.

The ending of the novel leaves a lot of room left for a sequel. I hope that Song of Scarabaeus is only the first of many stories about Edie and Finn.

(Reviewed by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt)


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