C.J. Cherryh:Heavy Time

While C.J. Cherryh's Alliance/Union universe definitely originates from Earth, she hasn't spent much time in our system until recently. Heavy Time, the first book to do so, takes place early in the timeline, and centers around that popular SF theme, the asteroid miners. It also contains a big impersonal Company that dislikes independents.

Two such independents, Morrie Bird and Ben Pollard, happen upon a derelict ship out of its assigned sector, and rescue Paul Dekker, the sole survivor, apparently crazy, and missing his partner. Ben's behaviour is downright disagreeable--he figured the ship is theirs, as salvage, and Dekker's crazy and doesn't deserve it. On the trip back to their base, tension arises between Ben & Bird as a result.

Dekker's story, when he returns to base and regains some of his faculties, was that he and his partner happened upon a rich find, but a nearby Company mass-driver claimed it instead. Somehow, by "accident", the 'driver sent a rock into their ship. But according to Company logs, there was no mass-driver at those coordinates. They start by accusing him of causing his partner's death, then finally declare it an accident.

But Dekker knows there's more to it than that, as does Bird, who feels bad about Ben getting the ship, and so, together with Meg & Sal, Ben & Bird's sometime girlfriends(and hoping to lease their new ship), they investigate things further, and offer to help him regain the pilot's license the company withdrew. Then all hell breaks loose at the Station...

I was never quite sure what the organization called the Shepherds was doing; something to do with retrieving rocks in Jupiter's gravity well, and also having a lot to do with the Company's downfall.

This is well up to Cherryh's standards. One grows to grudgingly like Ben, despite his hard-headed stubbornness and monomania, and Cherryh's a master at drawing desperate characters like Paul Dekker. Highly recommended.

%A Cherryh, C.J.
%T Heavy Time
%I Warner Questar
%C New York
%D Copyright 1991
%G ISBN 0-446-36223-9
%P 330 pp.
%S Heavy Time
%V Book 1
%O Paperback, US$4.99, Can$5.99

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com