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Bitter Angels

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  250 ratings  ·  51 reviews
An Imploding Star System.
A Murdered Galactic Spy.
A Woman Seeking the Truth—and Finding the Unbelievable…

The Erasmus System is a sprawling realm of slavery, smugglers, spies—and constant, creeping decrepitude. Here everyone who is not part of the ruling Four Families is a slave of one kind or another. But the Guardians, a special-forces branch inside the United World Govern
Paperback, 438 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Spectra (first published January 1st 2009)
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3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  250 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Feb 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
[Disclaimer: I received this book for a twitter RT contest run by the publisher. There was no expectation of any kind associated with it.]

Bitter Angels is based on an interesting twist: What if an entire society was based around keeping the peace? Not through oppression, not through violence (or at least, lethal violence), but through a combination of technology, diplomacy, and sheer dedication. What would that society look like?

It's an intriguing twist to a sci-fi spy novel, and it works rather
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grown-up, spectra
It’s about family, and the memories of dead friends, and loyalty, and betrayal. It’s really well done. It’s also depressing as hellllllll.
Feb 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Initially I was really interested in the setup, since it featured an older, out-of-shape woman, a retired mother of three. She notes her body is now soft and curved in places it used to be hard and lean, that she's out of touch with the friends and resources she used to have, things like that. On its own, this could have been a really interesting aspect to the book, but it's magically done away with when Terese is medically conditioned, her body returned to that of a 30-year-old woman. Oh, and i ...more
Feb 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Bitter Angels was written by Sarah Zettel under pseudonym. It’s a military science fiction of sorts with a central murder mystery. And I liked it much more than Kingdom of Cages, which put me off from her, seems I was wrong.

The Erasmus System is a sprawling realm of slavery, smugglers, spies—and constant, creeping decrepitude. Here everyone who is not part of the ruling Four Families is a slave of one kind or another. But the Guardians, a special-forces branch inside the United World Government
K. Lincoln
Jun 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Bitter Angels is definitely worth reading. Despite its Urban Fantasy-esque title and cover, this is not about a kick-ass heroine who encounters magic or vampires.

It's about a kick-ass heroine who encounters spy and political intrigue in a far off system teetering on the brink of collapse.

Except this kick-ass heroine is retired, and has a family that loves her, and whom she loves, and so when she decides to chuck it all to reenlist so that she can find out the truth behind a beloved colleague's d
Book Calendar
Aug 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Bitter Angels by C.L. Anderson

Field Commander Terese Drajeske works for the Guardians a special wing of the united earth government. Her job is to prevent wars from happening throughout human space. The philosophy of the Guardians is one of precise use of force.

This means that there is quite a bit on nonlethal methods of combat like glue guns, ambush tactics, fear, and focused controlled fighting in combat. They also preempt fighting with espionage and political tactics.

The Erasmus system whe
Keith Davis
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bitter Angels opens when a woman suffering from severe PTSD after being tortured as a prisoner of war is called back to active service to investigate the death of her mentor by a sort of interplanetary secret service called the Guardians. The story is set in a future where medical science has achieved human immortality, but access to it is heavily restricted. It is also possible to have an AI chip implanted in your brain that provides you with lifelong companion that only you can see and hear. I ...more
Kyra Dune
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this one a lot. The plot was intriguing and the characters interesting to follow. I like the fact that the science was not overly explained. If you're looking for 'hard' science fiction this one is not for you, but if you're more interested in story with the SciFi bits woven in rather than being the main focus then I definitely recommend Bitter Angels.
Nicholas Whyte
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf, unread, b12, u

Gritty complex far-future espionage story, whose heroine is recalled from retirement with her young family to investigate the disappearance of an old frenemy. I found it all a bit too complex and the characters not all that attractive. I know some people liked it more than me.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, digital
I actually liked this quite a bit. There are some moments that don't make sense except that the plot needed them, but otherwise it's a pretty solid space opera.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: have, science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a long time since I have read a book like this. All the unknown challenged me and made it hard to read, but I liked it.
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it
(6/10) It's kind of hard to see how this got an award generally associated with experimental/"cutting-edge" SF because Bitter Angels, whatever its merits, is ultimately a very conventional sci-fi novel. It's the story of a reluctant peacemaker from the priveledged central planets who comes to the screwed-up Erasmus system to investigate a mystery and ultimately uncover a conspiracy. (There's a bit of naive paternalism in the description of the Gaurdians, a kind of super-powered UN organization, ...more
Paul Guinnessy
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
How humans react if their lifespan turns into the centuries, instead of decades, brings up one issue that's been close to my mind over the last few years, will the rich behave more differently with that power than the rest, and would they share such treatments? Although Anderson wrote this book before the 1% protests started, there are some disturbingly familiar trends that resonant with the current political system and world. For example, in the Erasmus system, the only way to get your children ...more
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Five stars, oh my yes. Normally I have little tolerance for character driven fiction (I'm in it for the action), but I have never read anything before in which the the balance between building a credible, clever, complicated plot and filling out the castmembers' back stories in ways that actually made me care about their mates, children and families is so steady. Even with two first person narrators switching off chapters (along with a few third person povs) I never felt cut off from a plotline ...more
James Spencer
Apr 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Fortunately for me, I had a professional reader overcome the difficulties of the novel's narative structure. Digital Talking Books for the win! I enjoyed the story well enough, but much of the science in this sci-fi novel are given only cursory mention. Explaining the technology involved in a system critical to the main character's survival as "are people are good at materials" falls short of what I demand from sci-fi authors. Sure, when science evolves to a level an order above common comprehen ...more
Aug 06, 2009 rated it liked it
This is the return to sf by a well known author (real name is on the inside cover but would not spoil it - suffice to say that I liked her two mid 90's sf novels but never cared about the fantasy)

It starts great but then it wastes good writing and potentially interesting characters and setting; I finished it and read it reasonably carefully so I would give it 3 stars but I would not check out another book in this universe and with these characters though I would not mind another sf by the author
May 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
While I did enjoy the story, I had a hard time putting everything together in a way that made sense. Many things become more apparent by the end of the book but are confusing as you read along. Some of the diologue I had to re-read several times. It wasn't always immediately apparent if a Companion was speaking in one of the character's heads or if it was another character. I like the idea of a murder mystery but the plot moved along a little too slowly with not much action. I also would have pr ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Here I found a moving story with real characters in a gritty setting. All of the characters have flaws and they make mistakes. Lots of them. There is a mystery underneath all of it, one which unwinds from multiple points of view. It takes a bit to get in the flow of the narrative. There are two first person accounts, then third person accounts for supporting roles. Once in, it makes sense and I found myself wanting to get on the other side of an event to understand if the meaning was conveyed co ...more
Jul 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kat H., Jen FA
Ah, the beginning of a string of (rare) 5-star books. But I finished it a month ago, so a fairly generic review:

_Bitter Angels_ is the first book by Sarah Zettel published under the pseudomym C.L. Anderson. I've enjoyed her books, but feel that this one is a step above the others. While her writing has always been a pleasure to read, this book took the _story_ up several levels. This story was mature in ways that the others didn't reach.

A book gets five stars for me when (a) I have a hard time p
Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Well, so far, it's astonishing how much her "World without war" sensibilities look just like the Cold War. And how much the insulated populace who have trouble grasping the terrible things the peacemakers protect them from and have to do themselves to accomplish that protection remind me of the American public over the last 50 years.

It didn't get better, it got worse. The author clings desperately to the idea that you can defeat terrorists, criminals and whatever you call those who murder for pe
Aug 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Diane Miller
Recommended to Jen by: Susan
Shelves: science-fiction, 2010
A complex plot, well-written characters and a really interesting universe make this a satisfying read.

Terese Drajeske is a retired member of an intergalactic spy organization and a mother of three who thought she left all the intrigue behind when she retired to a home on Lake Superior. Instead, she's dragged back in to the thick of things when her mentor Bianca Fayette is killed mysteriously (especially since she was supposed to be immortal)in an out-of-the-way colony called the Erasmus system.

Chrissy Wissler
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
When the retired Guardian Terese Drajeske is called back to stop a war in the failing Erasmus System, she goes back with a heavy heart. Her long time friend and Guardian companion is dead and returning to this life means turning her back on her husband and family.

This story is threaded with complex connections, manipulations and dead-ends, but the driving force is the characters. Each has their own individual struggle, their own reasons for making the choices they do and C.L. Anderson doesn't ma
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi
The story starts off somewhat disjointed and using slightly odd terms for people and places. The numerous perspectives that the story is told from initially only added to my confusion. As the story progressed the different perspectives provided an interesting method for showing character motivations and history... unfortunately it left me not overly connected to any of the characters.

The levels of intrigue and the societal layers were well thought out. An interesting universe setting. I hoped fo
Brennan Griffin
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Written under a pseudonym by Sarah Zettel, I thought this was an interesting addition to her work. Sarah Zettel is one of my favorite authors, but this didn't quite hold up for me, for reasons I can't quite define. At the same time, its a good read, dealing carefully with very human characters doing their best under ugly, constrained circumstances in a totalitarian state. Given the potential for technologies to enhance the potential of totalitarianism, I think its an important and interesting th ...more
Booknerd Fraser
Jun 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
(really should be 2.5) Well done paranoia, many layered. Yeah, half the stuff that happened wouldn't happen if the characters talked to each other, the whole point was this was a sick society under constant survailance. No, my big problem was the lack of buildup, or explanation how the "ultimate weapon" was all that ultimate, nor that it would have been that much of a helpful technology. But it was in general in was an ok SF thriller.
May 08, 2010 rated it liked it
This science fiction novel won the Philip K. Dick award in 2009. Although I enjoyed the read I found the writing somewhat uneven. She jumps around from the different characters' viewpoints and one can not always follow their sudden insights and/or agonized confusions. I am curious as to why the publisher encouraged Sarah to use a pseudonym. Perhaps "Anderson" puts the book higher on the shelf than "Zettel"?
Feb 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
oooo! i thought--an sf book with a middle-aged female heroine, this should be fun.

and then i found out she acted a lot like a 20-year-old male hero, except when emotion overcomes her and she nearly passes out (she maybe should see a doc, it happens a lot), and oh! she's a couple hundred years old.

if you want a book with a(n almost) middle-aged heroine, go read Far North. waaay better.
Jul 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Science fiction- about a group of Guardians (sworn not to kill) who defend Solaris (old Earth and associated worlds.) A retired Guardian is reactivated to go to a hot spot where her former mentor died. She goes reluctantly, against her family's objections, and gets embroiled in a complicated plot which has the Guardians right in the middle. the book got more exciting as the situation progressed, and the living conditions on the "hot spot" were heartbreaking.
Mark Polino
May 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, 2010
I had high hopes for this book but in the end the plot was muddled. There wasn't enough of a connection to familiar things to bridge the gap into the sci fi world for the reader. In Star Wars, when Leia call Han a "scruffy nerf herder" we get the reference even if we don' t know what a nerf is. There weren't enough connections like that and plot ultimately comes together not in the last 100 pages but in the last 25 or so. I really lost interest way before then.
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C.L. Anderson has been known to tell people she lives in a stately Victorian home on a windswept island in Lake Superior with her three sisters and their pet wolf Manfred. She has also been known to tell people she is a science fiction writer living near Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband, son and cat.

C.L. Anderson is a pseudonym for author Sarah Zettel. Zettel also writes as Marissa Day.
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