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Primary Inversion (Saga of the Skolian Empire #1)

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  3,163 Ratings  ·  180 Reviews
The Skolian Empire rules a third of the civilized galaxy through its mastery of faster-than-light communication. But war with the rival empire of the Traders seems imminent, a war that can only lead to slavery for the Skolians or the destruction of both sides. Destructive skirmishes have already occurred. A desperate attempt must be made to avert total disaster.
ebook, 386 pages
Published February 2008 by Baen (first published January 1st 1995)
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2.5 stars. The first book in the Saga of the Skolian Empire. I was expecting to like this a lot more than I did. The basic premise of the series sounded very interesting. The Skolian Empire rules a large interstellar empire and is in a constant struggle with a larger rival empire, the Eubian Concord. The ruling class of the Eubians are engineered to derive pleasure from the pain of others and the Skolian empaths are their most desired victims. Decent world building, decent story, decent book. I ...more
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
At the beginning of the year I decided to actively seek out and read SF&F written by women or with women occupying the titular roles. As you may imagine, when I first learned about Catherine Asaro , a female author who writes hard SF while reading the Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction, I was excited and impressed and went in immediate search of books written by her. Aside from being an author and dancer, Asaro has degrees in chemistry and physics from Harvard. I felt immediately assu ...more
Nov 14, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do you ever read the last page first? I do it all the time. A number of people give me a certain look when I admit this. You know the one; you’re probably doing it right now. But really, I can’t say as it’s ever ruined a good book for me? Ursula LeGuin puts it well: “It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Every book is a journey, and when you put ten or more books together, the journey just gets longer and longer and you never want it to end ...more
May 21, 2008 Juliana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, romance, hard-sf
Someone pitched this to me as "hard SF meets romance." I was intrigued, but ultimately rather disappointed. The hard SF bits are rather clunkily described (few authors can keep me interested in lengthy descriptions of their technology, particularly if it's an imagined visual/telepathic version of cyberspace...), and the rest of the plot is pretty standard. The only really intriguing concept here is the idea of empaths as soldiers-- the Skolians' most elite soldiers are also usually the most powe ...more
Bryan Alexander
I love reading space opera, that classic science fiction subgenre. I've enjoyed it since I was a kid, before I even knew the term. As an adult I track the stuff down, hunting for excellent and obscure titles. So I was delighted to come across Primary Inversion in a library give-away, since I hadn't read it before.

I enjoyed the novel, as it gave me many space opera pleasures: space battles! interstellar empires! cyborgs! new worlds! intrigue! ...but after finishing it my mind wouldn't stop pickin
Space empire ruled by royal telepaths something opposing empire of evil sexual sadists something soulbond something something boring space battles.

I don’t object to getting some romance in my scifi (or even some scifi in my romance, sometimes). It just helps if one or the other is, uh . . . good. This is terrible, amateurish scifi full of narcolepsy-inducing descriptions of how every stupid little piece of technology works. And it’s also a cardboard romance where all the actual authorial work an
Jul 25, 2010 Joy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first Skolian Empire book stars Soz, aka Sauscony Valdoria Skolia, squad primary, heir to the emperor. The Skolian empire is in endless war against the Traders. The Trader aristocrats have sadism bred into them. To the empathic Skolians, the Traders' love of torture -- their need to torture -- is the ultimate horror. Soz has found, unbelievably, a Trader Aristo who is not a sadist, and now she has an opportunity to make peace between their empires, if she can keep him and herself alive.

I fou
This book featured a number of compelling moments, sandwiched between a few extreme info dumps and techno babble.

To put this in perspective, it has been a long time since I've ventured into space opera, so I might not be remembering genre norms very well, but the first three chapters of this book were really just one long, boring info dump. The problem with this kind of info dump is actually two-fold: First, it was boring to read, and came very close to making me put the book down. (I'd had any
Jun 29, 2016 Mara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plenty of tech babble and some flatness in the romantic thread are my main nits, otherwise I loved it.
Primary Inversion is a quick, fun read. Nothing profound.

There's quite a bit too much world-building in the first pages, and the amount of pseudo-science babble is pretty extreme. A few of the characters are well conceived, but the villains are stick figures.

The best part, I think, is the portrayal of the psychiatric profession, astonishingly enough.

If the next books in the series were available at my local library, I might read more. But they aren't, and there are too many other books awaiting
Carolyn F.
I love sci-fi romance books but this one left me confused. I had no idea who the heroine really loved and the guy she ended up with seemed fine but unlike the book's blurb, I didn't see that instant love connection myself. I'll read the next book in the series because I heard this series is good. I hope so.
Catherine Asaro knows her physics, and she tries to use her knowledge to inject believability and a sense of "hard scifi"ness to this story. Unfortunately, what she ends up mostly doing is destroying the pacing and boring her readers.

Seriously, there is WAAAAY too much exposition and telling in this book. I'll admit that she works hard at explaining the science of things, and she creates lots of hooks for future stories in the series, but she ends up with a plot that often plods instead of flyin
Jeff Powers
I'll admit to not loving this book. It took time to grow on me. The writing isn't stellar and the world-building takes some time to be clear. But by half way through this book I was hooked. So while, I will admit to not loving it, I will also admit to loving it. It is an odd thing. It is rough and very apparent that it is a first novel, from someone trying to break new ground by combining hard SF mathmatics with soft SF social issues and even romantic plotlines. They don't always work out, but t ...more
Bark's Book Nonsense
I read this over a decade ago & re-listened to it on audio while cleaning the house, exercising, cooking & driving to and from work and I didn't find it nearly as enthralling as I did the first time around. Maybe because I'd read it before or maybe because now I'm an oldish crab? I don't know, either way I kept wishing it would hurry up and end because I wanted to listen to something else. It's strange, I remembered this book as being emotionally draining and the torture scenes grueling ...more
Ricky Penick
Jul 29, 2012 Ricky Penick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Where to start? I must admit that I have a weakness for bad "sci-fi" and I have rarely encountered a "sci-fi" movie that I wouldn't at least try to watch. I am a little more picky with books since they require a larger time commitment. Listening imposes other factors beyond one's imaginings so I tried to pin it on the narrator for a while, but no.
Imagine that I am the world's most adamant Ayn Rand detractor or more improbably, her biggest fan. Now try to imagine a pseudo Dagny Taggert cougar hei
Jul 12, 2015 Rachelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the synopsis, I didn't think this would be a story told from a First Person POV. I was expecting something more along the lines of "Battlestar Galactica." Instead, everything is seen from Soz's perspective. Soz is a woman, and a soldier, and that made Primary Inversion another difficult book for me.

I was reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins at the same time, and due to how much both books hit home for me, I ended up having to take a break from them to read something a bit more light-hearte
Sep 13, 2011 LindaJ^ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read. There are 3 human based races that occupy various planets. Two are at war and they are human species resulting from attempts to create superhumans. One has no ability to feel empathy and gets pleasure from the pain of others. The other has a superior group of warriors -- enhanced by technology and able to communicate mentally by sensing others. The third that is not a war - the Allies - are unaltered. The male and female who are the individuals picked to secede the leaders o ...more
Jan 17, 2015 Xabi1990 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

De esta autora había leído Rosa Cuántica y le tenía con un 8/10, por lo que me animé a leer esta otra novela … y, oye, que muy bien, otro 8/10, puede que más.

En una CF militarista/space opera “light”, porque aunque hay tres especie de Imperios en la galaxia todos son humanos. Y militarista “light” porque en realidad lucha, lucha, hay poca.

Aparecen humanos con poderes psíquicos, otros reforzados biomecánicamente para mejorar aptitudes de combate, hay una megared informática galáctica, está el rol
2016 update: The romance wasn't as satisfying to me 5 years after I first read it. It's insta-love covered by chemical/mental connections. I think I prefer the other books better, with their more complex plots and complicated relationships. Next up: the first one about Saucsony.

Very heavy emphasis on science and technology in this one - neuroscience and the math and physics of interstellar, faster-than-light travel. At times, I had to continue reading without more than a vague understanding of
Great start to Asaro's Skolian Empire saga. Published in 1996, it has a nice balance between hard sci-fi and space opera themes and development of a sensitive but tough telepathic character, Soz (Sauscony Valdoria) struggling to find love and human connections in the face of emotional isolation as both a military pilot and heir to the heriditary throne of empaths. As a physicist, Asaro is able to put her own innovative twists on the rendering of faster-than-light space travel, artificial intelli ...more
I like this in theory more than in practice. A prickly, ambitious, sympathetic, PTSDing female protagonist, a romance that reverses a lot of the cliches of the genre, and interesting, slow, psychological bit, all sound good in theory. But reversed cliches are still cliches, and the protag is also, it so happens, a super soldier, amazingly beautiful and a princess. That slow bit makes for somewhat stilted pacing, the technical infodumps become too much and, weirdly, theres something very 80's abo ...more
Aug 04, 2011 Mmmjay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I very much enjoyed this book. It is storytelling on the galactic scale. If you enjoy science fiction pick up the book. Cybernetics is at the heart of this far in the future tale, yet even with this science there is political turmoil and struggle. Humans have evolved but the quest for domination by the ruling hegemony is as close as today. Evolution through melding humans with computers brings the ability to travel to far distant planets but the political machinations of certain members of the r ...more
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
Primary Inversion is a very mixed bag of a story. It starts out with leanings toward military SF, shifts into a little of a Romeo & Juliet'ish romance, rushes to action, drops back for introspection on freedom, liberty and sacrifice, then back to the romance. In between are various jumps are spurts of techno-babble and exposition that never quite gain complete coherence.

While the basic conflicts are fairly clear, a lot of detail about the Skolian and Trader societies is lacking, with hints t
Dec 21, 2011 Shara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will definitely be hunting down the other books in this series. Not because of Asaro's writing style by any means, but I like the relationships between the characters, and the setting and overall story arc is interesting enough to keep me reading. I'd definitely recommend anyone who is writing or reading hard SF to check it out--read a sample on Amazon, or go to your local library, or something. Also, if you're a sucker for romance (guilty-pleasures, yo), I think you'll be thoroughly amused.[r ...more
Scribblesinink (scribbler)
I got this as one of Baen's free ebook giveaways, and as such didn't expect overly much. However, Asaro sucked me into her tale from almost the first page, and any book that makes me want to immediately seek out the rest of her work in the same universe deserves five stars.
Good Read.

Plot-wise there's nothing really new here; it's a pretty standard star-crossed lovers story. But the characters are interesting and likable and the Skolian/Trader universe interesting (if not entirely convincing). A particularly nice touch is the effort Asaro makes to keep the Skolian/Trader conflict from becoming a simple good guys/bad guys dichotomy.
May 19, 2009 Manda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Cheeky physics
Sappy romance

a price in a tower, waiting to be rescued
a princess to do the rescuing

it speeks to my soul

Things i like:
1) untraditional gender roles
2) crazy fun physics
3) eternal love with vulcan mind melds
4) space battles with overpowered wepons
Feb 24, 2008 Zen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
The whole series is great - strong female lead - and it's a sexy space-soap-opera to boot! Not to many author can make that combo succeed without turning it into sappy sludge. All of Asaro's books (even the less interesting ones) keep your blood pumping...
Well, not bad.

JDN 2456547 PDT 21:55.

A review of Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro.

It's certainly not the best SF novel I've ever read, but nor is it the worst. I like the first-person perspective, and for the most part the protagonist is compellingly complex, at once flawed and heroic, indestructible in combat but emotionally fragile. She is basically the only interesting character, unfortunately. Jaibriol could be interesting, but isn't quite developed enough; Rex had potential too, but it
Laurie Lynn
Feb 04, 2017 Laurie Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its been a while since I read the sweries so in general I love this book for its expansive world (a slow and engaging build) and the characters presented. Forwarning it a 14 book series so far and it takes years between books.
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The author of more than twenty-five books, Catherine Asaro is acclaimed for her Ruby Dynasty series, which combines adventure, science, romance and fast-paced action. Her novel The Quantum Rose won the Nebula® Award, as did her novella “The Spacetime Pool.” Among her many other distinctions, she is a multiple winner of the AnLab from Analog magazine
More about Catherine Asaro...

Other Books in the Series

Saga of the Skolian Empire (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • Catch the Lightning (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #2)
  • The Last Hawk (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #3)
  • The Radiant Seas (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #4)
  • Ascendant Sun (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #5)
  • The Quantum Rose (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #6)
  • Spherical Harmonic (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #7)
  • The Moon's Shadow (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #8)
  • Skyfall (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #9)
  • Schism (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #10; The Triad, #1)
  • The Final Key (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #11; The Triad, #2)

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