by Kelley Eskridge
Eskridge’s writing is a serious cut above what I think of as standard genre-fiction quality. This book (her first) is full of vivid descriptions, real conversations, and little bits that make her characters seem human. This is a well-paced story — Eskridge made me want to know how things were going to turn out.
The story takes place in a quasi-dystopian, near-future world. A global government (EarthGov) is pulling together and one very powerful company (Ko) is looking to be a nation-state. There’s a lot in here about the power of symbolism, the power of corporations, and the power of social networks, all of which is more interesting that I’m probably making it sound right now. There are also questions about authenticity, relationships, and identity.
The main character, Jackal, is both extremely naive and highly trained — understandable given who she is and how she has been raised — and this makes her problems more interesting than they would otherwise be. At first her problem seems to be she is a living symbol with a screwed-up mother; then it becomes apparent that her problem is that as a living symbol, she makes a convenient fall guy, so she winds up a convicted mass-murderer. Jackal is locked away in experimental solitary virtual confinement, and the fun really starts after that.
A side note: this book is the only kind of lesbian fiction I’m interested in reading — the point being it isn’t lesbian fiction at all — it is a good story in which two of the characters happen to be women who have a relationship that works (or doesn’t) just like any other relationship in any well-written book.
If creepy near-future worlds, virtual reality, or corporate machinations in fiction hold any appeal for you, read this book. Highly recommended.