Killbox (Jax, Book 4)
Fantasy novels often focus on politics and group interactions. It’s not that such themes are uncommon in science fiction, but many of those novels more likely involve technology than diplomacy.
Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series balances these two aspects.
Having quit her position as ambassador, Jax has holed up on a station to start training new jumpers, and (hopefully) give humanity a weapon against the carnivorous Morgut. But while she and her lover March are thus occupied, they get an offer they can’t refuse.
New Terra’s president contacts March and makes him the commander of an armada that he himself will form. His recruits are pirates and smugglers who’ve been granted amnesty and allowed to become privateers. The hope is to strengthen local borders before the conflict worsens.
And worse is indeed coming, as the Morgut mass for invasion.
This series involves an ongoing storyline, so new readers can’t just jump in with any book. The time investment required to read up to this point is well worth it, though. All the myriad elements woven together are parts of a larger story: one that advances with each novel. The stories are lean, with little or no extraneous elements.
Killbox has strong characters to balance the action, which makes Aguirre’s decision to move several of them out of the story a little puzzling. The plot doesn’t involve mass character casualties, but the members of this group — who’ve been together for a few novels — are moving in different directions.
There’s no way to tell how this will affect the overall narrative until the next book, but as this novel progressed, the absence of these characters was quite noticeable.
Despite this, I wholeheartedly recommend Killbox and the rest of the Sirantha Jax novels as first-rate sci-fi adventure. These quick, lively reads represent some of the best offered by the genre.
This review originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on September 16, 2010.