Tara K. Harper:Lightwing

Tara K. Harper, says her bio at the back, has a Bachelor of Science degree, has worked in "the electronics and computer test-and-measurement field", and tries to keep up with the fields of genetics, biophysics, physics and space exploration. That kind of scientific background certainly shows up in Lightwing.

That said, I'm not sure that this is hard SF, though I'm a bit fuzzy at what qualifies a book for that subgenre, not having read as much Analog as I might have. Most of the main characters in the book are scientists and engineers, trying to crack the secret of the FTL drive, and I often found myself bewildered by the technical jargon flying around--mainly because the author made it up herself, ESP and FTL not being fields I'm up on. In the latter, particularly, despite my passing familiarity with relativity physics, I often had little clue what she was referring to. But this is future tech, right?

Oh, yes, the ESP bit. Well, there's more than one alien race floating around, and a fair number of strains of mutated human stock(usually called H'Mus), including the protagonist, Kiondili Wae. Several of the aliens and many of the H'Mus have ESP abilities to a greater or lesser degree; these abilities also have their technical uses, being somehow able to interact with and control "fields".

Kiondili Wae, a H'Mu ESPer with a bit of a chip on her shoulder and tragedy in her past, gets transferred to Corson Station, where she immediately gets into trouble and makes enemies. There's more than a bit of professional rivalry, lots of technical problems, and Wae's emotional problems cause their fair share of trouble too.

The aliens are well-drawn. We really only get one sample of each type, except for the H'Mus, but they're all interesting--the Ixia, a carnivorous race who instinctively pounce on weakness(sometimes literally); the Moal, whose musical communications remind me somewhat of Cherryh's tc'a(who spoke in matrices); the Ruvians, who are H'Mus so far removed as to no longer have a constant physical form, or sexuality; the Dhirrnu, practical jokers with racial memory; and others only sketched out. I can't help wondering if Harper has written/ will write more books in this universe...

For those who like to quantify these things, I'll give it a 7/10. The last half of the book really pulled me along, and the characterization is good.

%A Harper, Tara K.
%T Lightwing
%I Ballantine del Rey
%C New York
%D July 1992
%G 0-345-37161-5
%P 261 pp.
%O Paperback, US $4.99, Can $5.99

Click here to go back to Alfvaen's Review Page.

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