One part Y.T from Neil Stephenson’s Snowcrash and one part the titular Friday born of Robert A. Heinlein’s imagination, the main character of Sarah Hoyt’s novel Darkship Thieves may well take her place among the most memorable female protagonists of science fiction.
Patrician Athena Sinistra is the daughter of a weathly politican, and is used to posh social gatherings and the trappings of a relative rich lifestyle. She’s also a rebel at heart, and spends much of her free time engaging in “brooming,” an illegal, fly by the seat of your pants airborne race. Her mostly carefree life is interrupted by an attempted kidnapping from her father’s ship, and we soon find out that her father may have been complicit in the attempt. Thena, as she likes to call herself, makes a daring escape, but is hardly better off as her tiny escape vessel careens into the solar system’s power pods.
The pods are part of an ancient network of bramble-like branches that ring Earth, engineered in the distant past by super-intelligent, genetically modified humans. While such modifications have long since become illegal, all of human society continues to benefit from their creation, as the power pods are the best source of power available. The pods are also the target of the mysterious Darkship Thieves, beings who use their stealthy vessels to interlope through the pods and make off with them.
Thena’s outlook is grim until she runs into a Darkship, and she finds herself rescued… for the moment.
Darkship Thieves is a solid science fiction novel, with a very likeable main character and an interesting supporting cast. The plot is coherent and the main arc runs smoothly throughout the story. Fans of Heinlein will be in familiar territory here. I thought the novel suffered slightly from pacing issues, especially in the middle, and the main character’s stream-of-consciousness narrative is sometimes hard to follow. Still, it is a fun book and well worth your time. 4/5 stars.