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Barbary Station

(Shieldrunner Pirates #1)

3.15  ·  Rating details ·  997 ratings  ·  209 reviews
Adda and Iridian are newly-minted engineers, but in a solar system wracked by economic collapse after an interplanetary war, an engineering degree isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Desperate for gainful employment, they hijack a colony ship, planning to join a pirate crew at Barbary Station, an abandoned shipbreaking station in deep space.

But when they arrive at Barb
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published October 31st 2017 by Saga Press
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Jessamyn I think she is purposefully written this way; that was my take when reading the book. It's clear that the author has generally progressive sensibiliti…moreI think she is purposefully written this way; that was my take when reading the book. It's clear that the author has generally progressive sensibilities (the kicking under the table every time the issue of the captain's pronouns comes up) and I get the feeling that Adda is a very intentionally-written character both physically (hair, body type/shape) and emotionally (exhibiting some autistic traits).(less)
Lance The Author doesn't go into elaborate detail about the arcitecture however I believe its on the cover of the book. The Pirate area is sort of attached …moreThe Author doesn't go into elaborate detail about the arcitecture however I believe its on the cover of the book. The Pirate area is sort of attached ad hoc to the outside hull, and poorly attached, therefore not in the immediate control of the AI.(less)

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Dec 14, 2019 added it
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 35%

With a strong start featuring lesbian space pirates, I thought this was going to be a fun ride. But unfortunately, after they got to the station, I started losing interest. There are so many side characters and I care about none of them. The writing is dry and the plot feels unfocused. There is a lot of description of tech, which left me feeling untethered from the story. After reading some more reviews, I don’t think this will improve for me. Such a shame.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Barbary Station was one of those weird books where the blurb was just so awesome that I had super high expectations for the book despite the fact that I'd seen zero hype for it anywhere!

The story had the potential to be absolutely fantastic. Adda and Iridian, engineers, hijack a spaceship and rush join some space pirates at the pirate haven of Barbary Station. It seemed a great plan at the time as the pirates were rumoured to be living the life of luxury at their captured station and both Adda
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Barbary Station, the debut novel from R.E. Stearns, is the story of Adda and Iridian – two deeply in love engineers who desperately want to become space pirates (!?!) – who hatch a plan to join an infamous crew that recently hijacked the titular space station. Once they arrive at their destination they discover that the station’s AI actually returned the favor and hijacked the pirates, and the couple’s hopes for gainful employment (and staying alive) rest on their ability to wrest control of the ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Adda and Iridian are a couple who have decided that the only way that they can be together in a severely depressed post-war Solar System is to join a group of space pirates. Adda is a gifted software engineer/hacker and Iridian is an ex-soldier who has trained as a mechanical engineer. Together they hatch a scheme to hijack a colony ship and get the spoils to Barbary Station, where Captain Sloane and her pirate crew (including Adda's brother) are based. Only when they get there the situation at ...more
This is a story about two women in love who decide to become space pirates, and then discover they have to take control of a scary AI to achieve their piracy dreams. In other words, I should have adored this. I should have eaten it up with a spoon.

I did not.

The thing is, there is a good book hiding in here, but it needed to be found, and it wasn’t. The book that actually exists is a mess. There’s a huge cast of characters, most of whom are barely introduced (and if they are introduced, there’s
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Despite the interesting concepts: piracy as a way to pay off student debts and to stay with one's significant other, killer AI terrorizing people on a space station, a committed and loving relationship between the main characters Adda and Iridian, different sides of a conflict having to work together to survive, good diversity in the characters, different kinds of AIs, I found this book was a slooooooow read. The author's style actually was a detriment to me enjoying this book. I find the text d ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: boring, q, qf, adult, yff, db, love-cover, sci-fi
DNF at 30%
2.5 stars*.

Barbary Station has one of the best premises ever:
🛰️ Pirates! Even better, two pirates in space who are women and also engineers (women in science!)
🛰️ and love each other (established f/f couple!). One of them is black and butch, the other is chubby
🛰️ they became pirates because of student loans.
🛰️ and they have to fight an evil AI!

And yet, I couldn't finish this book. The writing is dry and I struggled to focus on it. I found myself rereading paragraphs many times becau
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since there were so few reviews out I was a bit anxious about this book, but I’d also been excited about it ever since it was announced last December and it sounded so promising (come on, who wouldn’t be very hyped for a book pitched as “lesbians of colour space pirate vs rogue AI”??) that I thought I should give it a chance and I preordred a copy a few days before it came out. I kind of bought this book on a whim and I’m very glad I wasn’t disappointed and had such a nice time reading. While it ...more
on the one hand: LESBIAN ❤ SPACE ❤ PIRATES ❤

on the other hand: ???????????????????????????

Normally I would think the fact that I had only the barest grasp of what was going for most of this novel would be a personal shortcoming on my part, but it seems like a lot of other readers had the same problem. However I will be the first to admit that I often have trouble understanding what is happening in sci-fi books, and while listening to them on audio makes it possible for me to actually read them a
Rian *fire and books*
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was ok

Strong premise but I found this dry. My mother makes well done steak that’s less dry than this book.

Okay, yes, lesbian space pirates is amazing, but why oh why did this author make them boring? Why? Why why why? One of these girls literally can PLUG HERSELF INTO A COMPUTER AND THIS BOOK IS BORING.

Why? Because the story can get really technical so my eyes just started glazing over. On top of that Adda (the computer) often isolated herself so she can plug herself in - while also on drugs.
Sep 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
This pisses me off. I was convinced that lesbian space pirates was going to be amazing. This was not. Could not give a single fuck for any of the characters. Felt like there was zero chemistry between Adda and Iridian. HATED the world building and AegiSKADA being "awakened" or not BULLSHIT. The writing was dry as balls and at no point did I actually feel like any of the main characters were in any danger even though people were dying left and right. SO FUCKING DISAPPOINTED. ...more
Bryan Ewert
May 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I don't understand how this book is achieving the ratings that it is. It's horribly written.

An overabundance of detail accompanies every action and line of dialog. It's an assault of minutiae that serves more to confuse than explain. Show, don't tell. This book is all tell.

The viewpoint changes randomly from paragraph to paragraph, disorienting the reading and making it impossible to follow from whose eyes the story is being told.

Some examples:

"Twisting the cable's probe in the jack adapted the
Samantha (AK)
Jan 17, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
DNF at page 189

I'm never quite sure what to say when I DNF a book.

I tried, guys. This was one of my anticipated releases of 2017. I sat on the waitlist for over a month after my library system bought a copy, even as the first (disappointed) reviews started coming in.

I should have known. As it turns out, there's a reason this is getting mixed reviews. It's just not that good. Great concepts, but ideas alone do not a good book make. The first 30 pages or so are excellent, but it trends downhill fr
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
This review and others posted over at my blog.

Lesbian space pirates versus a murderous AI? Sign me the hell up! The result left me feeling conflicted, however. Buckle up!

We’re immediately thrust into the story and Adda and Iridian’s dreams for their future, all of which intrigued me. The action throughout the book is kept at a fairly steady pace – Adda’s introverted and tech-minded observations are offset by Iridian’s near constant action scenes. Once the couple is aboard the ship, there’s a
Doctor Science
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hugo-poss-2018
Many of my friends need only hear the words "lesbian space pirate engineers battle rogue AI" to know that Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns is just what they're looking for. It's not a falling-in-love romance: the POV characters happen to be an established f/f couple who decide becoming space pirates is the only way to deal with their student loans. Like you do.

The plot is lively and indeed gripping (though as usual I could really use a map), but I also started to detect a theme, which can be summ
This could have been SO good but the characters didn't do it for me at all. A+ for the plot and the diversity (lesbian space pirates for the win) but the characters where lacking depth and their interactions where sometimes cringe-worthy in their awkwardness (especially that "special" moment at the very end, what the hell was that? Where were the feels?). Not to mention the repetitiveness of the first half of the book where one of the MCs repeatedly misgenders another character and just wouldn't ...more
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I liked it well enough. Plenty of action, lots of hard SF things. Could easily be a movie. Super open ending though, a bit unsatisfying. And it took me a long time to read. Maybe because I’m tired and stressed, but I didn’t find it as engaging as I wanted it to be.
since i told myself to write more reviews of the books i like instead of just angry reviews of the ones i Don't, lemme crank something out real quick

so first off, the premise of this book alone is worth five stars: Lesbian Space Pirates. Lesbian. Space. Pirates.

gods bless.

secondly, the characters and the plot and the worldbuilding are also five star worthy. i'm a huge sucker for what i call stealth worldbuilding, which is mostly just minimalist infodumping, but whatever. i love that these lesbia
This sounded right up my alley--space pirates vs. a killer AI? Yes, please! Only...this particular book about space pirates vs. a killer AI? Not so much.

I just couldn't get attached to anything, at all. The characters and their history and why they're even together at all? Nope, none of that really made sense to me. The technical details? Uh...that didn't really make sense to me either--it just seemed like a bunch of space/computery words with no actual context or descriptions of what was being
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This is definitely a time where I wish gr had more stars, because this is right between 3 and four stars, for me. It was literally what I had been asking for: gay lady space pirates, but there was something missing. I was looking for something more campy and fun, and this was just not. It felt like our protags just didn't have any mini wins to keep me going, and there just wasn't enough interaction between Adda and Iridian- I felt like we only got sparing dialogue between them and nev ...more
Didi Chanoch
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is really 3.5 stars, rounded up. There's a lot to like about this novel, which is, after all, about a couple of lesbian pirate wannabes and the deadly tasks they must undertake to become pirates.

Unfortunately, the good is bogged down by too many characters who are barely more than sketches, and a story about AI which never goes deep into the fascinating aspects that are glimpsed.

Adda and Iridian, our two leads, are terrific characters, smart and brave and loving. That makes up some for th
Feb 21, 2018 added it
Dnf..stopped at 12%. The writing isnt flowing and is overly descriptive and in some points unnecessary. Also found it was lacking an sense of characterisation which is a big influencer on whether I enjoy a read. It may appeal to some, just not ready to read 400pages or so, when there are so many other novels to read.
C. S.
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, fiction, audio
Not as lighthearted, pop-corn sci-fi as I was hoping, but still a damn good story, although there are a couple places I might have gotten bogged down if I wasn't a captive audience (listening to an audiobook as I work).

Everything I'd expect from a story described to me as "Gay space pirates vs killer AI."
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, spec-fic
Ugh, there was nothing actually wrong with this book, and a lot I found really cool, and, c'mon, it's about queer space pirates! So why did I feel so bored and reluctant to pick it up every time I needed a book to read? I don't understand. It should have been at least fine, but it just didn't click with me or excite me. ...more
Christopher Farrell
This is sadly my first DNF here on Goodreads.

I tried. The concept was interesting but the blend of Golden Agey attempts of writing, tech description, and poor dialogue made this such a sad, lackluster read. I would read pages and still have no real idea on what was going on. Maybe I'm not in the mood for sci-fi but this didn't float my boat in any way.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this more than I did.

I thought the premise sounded interesting - two women hijacking a ship, intending to deliver it to a group of pirates and earn a place on the crew, ensuring the money and freedom for a long, happy life together, only for a rogue AI to waylay their plans.

Unfortunately, it just didn't do it for me.

I wasn't particularly invested in any of the characters. Adda and Iridian were alright. I enjoyed that Iridian was a physically strong woman who was still wri
I don't know, this was fine I guess. I wanted to like it more than I did, because I like pirates, and I like space adventures, and being stuck on a space station run by an AI that wants to kill you sounds great!

But I found the action hard to follow - there's a lot of build up, and then something important happens in half a sentence. The narration jumps around a lot, and I didn't always find different characters differentiated enough to keep track of who was who. I guess this book wanted me to re
Peter Tillman
Per Ann Leckie,

"So, Lesbian Space Pirates. Out at the end of October. That may be all I need to say. ...

This book is good fun. Set in the Solar System, lots of action, I really enjoyed this, and I bet you will, too."

Liz Bourne opined:
"I will directly commend to your attention R.E. Stearns’ debut novel, Barbary Station. A novel of engineers, pirates, and murderous AI in the outer reaches of the solar system, it’s enormously appealing. For me, part of its
Janet Martin
I think that 3 stars is a gift to a writer who had a good premise and interesting situations but lacked skill to fully realize her ideas. I love space opera and wanted to like this book. Unfortunately the characters lack development, the plot has holes, and the grammar is sometimes awful--I read a prepub copy, so hope at least the grammar was fixed. I blame the flaws of this book on the editor--I would hope that publishers want to prepare promising new writers better than this. I will look for S ...more
Mar 20, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: science-fiction, lgbt
I really wanted to enjoy this. The premise sounded good, the beginning was good, and I was exited to see where it was going. It just sort of stagnated for me once the characters reached Barbary station. It seemed as though a lot was going on but I didn't understand why I should care. The characters didn't feel very fleshed out despite the fast paced plot. I would read something else by the author but this just wasn't for me. ...more
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R. E. Stearns is the author of the Shieldrunner Pirates trilogy. When not writing or working, she reads, plays PC games, and references internet memes in meatspace. She recently moved to Denver, Colorado, USA with her husband/computer engineer and a large cat.

To find out what R. E. Stearns is up to, visit or @re_stearns on Twitter and Instagram.

Other books in the series

Shieldrunner Pirates (3 books)
  • Mutiny at Vesta (Shieldrunner Pirates, #2)
  • Gravity of a Distant Sun (Shieldrunner Pirates #3)

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