Book review: "Earthrise" by M.C.A. Hogarth
Earthrise, the first book in M.C.A. Hogarth's Her Instruments trilogy, is a comfy space opera which includes some furry critters. Based on my last visit to her work (books 1 & 2 of The Dreamhealers), the furry species are nice and familiar. The crew of the TMS Earthrise has a centaur with wings, a phoenix, a mated pair of bipedal felines, and a throw-pillow tribble with strong mental powers. Most of these are descendants of slave races that humans created centuries earlier.
The assembled characters have an almost whimsical balance, yet they still feel realistic. When we join them in the story, they're a well-meshed crew. There's a comforting alienness to each of them, a diversity that avoids stereotypes, but claims labels of diversity within diversity, if that makes sense. We mostly see them through the eyes of their captain.
Captain Reese Eddings is a human who's a bit of a romance reader. In many ways, she herself is like a typical heroine in a romance. When a mysterious albino space "elf" is rescued, her attraction to him is instant, and she habitually throws up roadblocks against it. But she's over-the-top in denial, and her crew drags her along the path of most resistance for her own good (as well as that of the plot).
Part of the charm of this book is Reese's awareness of so many romance novel elements around her, without once accepting that she may just be in love with a certain someone. Another part of the charm is that she's the one often doing the rescuing, and yet is blind to this the few times when she's rescued.
Hirianthial is the albino that comes to stir the pot. He's an Eldritch, a long-living, elf-like humanoid. He's also telepathic, so he has that going for him. Often, rather, against him.
It's a fun book without being overly comedic or dramatic. The only drawback is, I have to wonder about the economics of space trade and travel. The question came up briefly in Mindtouch, I think, but it was lampshaded early if it was. However, a bit more information in the story would be helpful. Space trade economics is at the heart of several plot points. So when Reese visits Mars with two others, using what's basically a form of public transport with minimum expense, I'm rather floored. There are other minor issues, but they all seem to relate back this sort of thing.
Overall, it's not the kind of universe that I'd be unhappy to find myself in. These are exactly the types of people that I would want to know and live with in that universe. I think that's a great part of the attraction here. It's the kind of place that makes me want to write fan fiction (but I won't by request of the author).
Earthrise is available for free from several e-book providers.
An earlier review of this book was posted by Fred Patten.