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Primary Inversion (Saga of the Skolian Empire #1)

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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  2,236 ratings  ·  129 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.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 15th 1996 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephen
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
Juliana
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
Kelly
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
Lightreads
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
...more
Joy
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
...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
Ricky Penick
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
...more
Linda
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
Christine
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
...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
Michael
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
Richard
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
...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
...more
Mmmjay
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
Shara
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
Madeleine
I read through this very quickly and am excited to try some other books in the series!

Catherine Asaro's strong science background is evident here, sometimes to the detriment of the story. There were moments when she seemed so intent on convincing you that the tech was based in real science that it got boring and/or even more unrealistic-seeming.

But I love the main character. My favorite scenes were her therapy sessions--they rang very true to me. Unusual and refreshing to see a protagonist reco
...more
Stephen
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.
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.
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.
Manda
May 19, 2009 Manda rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Zen
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...
Judy Goodwin
It can be difficult finding good science fiction with actual science written by women. I heard about Catherine Asaro way back when I attended a writers’ convention over ten years ago. (The name might have been dropped by Connie Willis, who I was hanging out with–funny woman.) I purchased this book along with her second book, but then life kind of went haywire (I got a divorce and became a single mother). The books sat on my shelf, were boxed up, and then sat on my new shelf in my new house, for ...more
Online Eccentric Librarian

More reviews at the Online Eccentric Librarian  http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/

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Science fiction and fantasy used to be a very technical and 'hard' read for those wanting a bit more emotion or even romance in their stories. Either cold and lifeless or bodice ripper on a spaceship. But in the 1990s, we had authors like Asaro and Bishop satisfying the need for great worldbuilding and science but as well a bit of human heart in there as well. Although not the best out there (the balance of technical and
...more
Dave
I was back and forth on this book as I read through it. There are two major sci-fi premises; the first, the idea of telepathy based on empathy and enhanced by some generic tech, was pretty interesting and well-applied throughout the book. It’s neatly tied to major plot points and had the effect of drawing the reader pleasantly into the story on an emotional level. The second, the “inversion” tech that hand-waves away the speed-of-light limitation, was a big miss. It essentially boils down to “he ...more
Patrick
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
...more
Harpmary
Good sci-fi. Part of the Skolian Empire series. I had read Quantum Rose a few years ago, and while I liked it, I had never read any other of the Skolian series, so I thought I would start at the beginning. (Although it is the first published novel of the Skolian series, I believe that chronologically, Primary Inversion takes place in the 'middle' of the series - which I didn't realize until I started reading it.) The hard science in the book is quite good, although being a non-scientist myself, ...more
Bron
I listened to Primary Inversion as an audio recording, and at first was put off by the abrasive american accented woman telling the story. However, as time went on I was able to ignore her voice and be captivated by the story.

Primary Inversion is the first of the Skolian Empire books, however it is not the first I have read. I was surprised to realise that it wasn't the chronological first book, which probably doesn't bother me as much as a new reader as I have read a lot of the others and was f
...more
A
It's been a few years since I've read this book, but I had to write a review because I saw that there were so many bad ones. This was a book that was given to me by a friend. Admittedly, I probably never would have read it if I had found it on my own. For some odd reason I just started reading it rather than looking at the backflap, which was probably a good thing. I may still never have read it if I had actually read the books description.

Primary Inversion, as I have found true of most of Asaro
...more
Rebecca
This is Asaro's first published novel, and it shows. There's an enormous amount of background information to be transmitted, and it's frequently done in data dumps that are awkward and not always easy to follow. The fact that much of the plot hinges on people discovering that their parents are not who they thought they were means that my difficulty in following some of the family trees became problematic later.

It's some fascinating worldbuilding, though. The Traders are an impressive evil, psych
...more
P. Kirby
For a novel that gets mentioned a lot on SF romance lists, Primary Inversion is rather light on Teh Lurve. And I say that as someone who isn't necessarily a fan of romance.

The protagonist, Sauscony Valdoria, is a Jagernaut, an empath with cybernetic implants that give her enhanced fighting abilities and the ability to pilot ships by bending space and time. She's also a potential heir to the Skolian empire. She commands a small team of Jagernauts in battles against the Trader Empire.

The Trader Em
...more
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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
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More about Catherine Asaro...
The Charmed Sphere (Lost Continent, #1) The Quantum Rose (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #6) The Misted Cliffs (Lost Continent, #2) Catch the Lightning (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #2) The Last Hawk (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #3)

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