There were two things that drew me to Joel Shepherd's Cassandra Kresnov series initially. The first was that his was the first prose work that I'd encountered that fully embraced and explored the ramifications of a totally integrated mind-to-net world, in a way I'd never seen done in prose SF before, but had seen only in the manga (not the anime) Ghost in the Shell. I mean, we all remember Case and Molly in each others heads from way back, but I'd yet to encounter a novel in which the entire population was chipped, with multiple conversation threads and images zipping around between everyone. And since this is pretty much where I think we're heading in the real world, I was surprised it took me till Joel to see it anywhere outside of manga. (I'm sure there are other examples, our own David Louis Edelman being one, but I'm talking my perspective.)
The second was the way he so seamlessly interwove action and political intrigue, and the coin toss it was to decide which was the more gripping. So it was really gratifying to see so many reviews stating things like "I can't wait to get through the action to the next political discussion." Not something you expect to see, right? Since then, I've held Joel up many times as the epitome of what a good SF novel can be - I mean, it has synthetic warrior women leaping out of flying cars with machine guns blazing, and is also a masterful examination of what it means to be human and the ramifications of artificial life, chocked full of strong female protagonists. It's smart, it's deep, it's fast-paced, it's action packed, it would make a hell of a good movie or tv series, and it's quintessential SF.
So this latest review from Rob H. Bedford of SFFWorld makes me smile. Since it just confirms everything above, "I also found the political maneuvering to parallel the action very well, much like the previous two volumes. Shepherd’s adept hand at balancing these two differently flavored adrenaline inducing types of scenes continues to be a strong point in his writing."
See? Rob continues, "Another strength that comes to the fore in Killswitchis that Shepherd doesn’t offer easy answers to his character’s problems. The relationship between Vanessa Rice and Sandy has been both intense and a walk across eggshells. Although these two do try to confront the tension between them, it doesn’t fully become resolved. I found this to be somewhat refreshing."
He concludes, "With this trilogy complete, Shepherd has proven his ability to deliver politically and action charged science fiction. ...the books stand well together as good action-packed Science Fiction. Kresnov is a strong character and a very human non-human character at that. Killswitch is a nice ending to the trilogy and a culmination of Sandy’s journey."
Thanks Rob. I couldn't agree more!