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Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
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's review
Jan 14, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi, vanquished_2010, favorites, owned
Recommended for: Fans of Serenity. Those who champion the underdog.
Read from January 24 to 26, 2010


The short of it?

It's gritty, unapologetic, and fast-paced. Jax and her shipmates are thoroughly unhinged, but mostly pragmatic, with a biting humor that gets them through the dark. Worthwhile introduction to the series. Can also be read as a stand-alone.

The meandering version?

Not too long ago, I read a book where a character claimed he wasn't a good man. He was just a man, doing the best he could do with whatever life threw at him: trying to make a difference in those moments he could; doing unsavory things in those moments he had to.

It's an incredibly apropos concept when considering Grimspace. In this twisted piece of science-fiction, most of the characters fall into the grey zone. Their overall goals might be characterised as good, but their actions on the way to achieving them are often harsh and cold-blooded.

It made me like them all the more.

Sirantha Jax falls in with a ragtag group who are just as broken as she is. They're fighting against impossible odds, making their determination seem reckless and ludicrous. I questioned their sanity throughout the whole of the piece.

But they question it too, giving their personalities greater depth and making it easy to relate to a bunch of people with whom I superficially share very little.

We're sharing Sirantha's headspace in this book, and it's not always a comfortable place to be. She's frequently on the brink of losing it, but even in her paranoia, I understand her.

She's obsessed with how she'll die, mostly envisioning it coming mid-jump, but sometimes hoping it comes when she's old and grey, keeling over into her tea while she oogles fine, golden young men. This obsession doesn't depress me though, because death is something she's resigned to. She's pragmatic. She knows navigating through Grimspace gradually grinds away at her mind, steals slivers of her soul, but the exhilaration she experiences while doing it seems worth the wear and tear. Death is just a logical conclusion. It's the thrill that's important.

And yet, despite the inevitable death by burn-out, when Sirantha's life is threatened outside the nav chair, she's a classic study in fight or flight. Her adrenaline rushes often lead to selfish behaviour, but that's okay. Because in the chaos she describes, would you or I behave any better?

Aguirre doesn't pull any punches. There are character deaths when you least expect it. They'll upset you. But with the passing of each life into the void, Aguirre assures us that the losses were unavoidable...senseless and tragic, yet heroic. She gives the lost ones their own piece of valour and their own purpose in the greater scheme.

The romantic pairing? It's not the focus. It's more of a byproduct. I like them. They fit. But I find myself wishing we'd had a little more time to examine them individually. It was haunting and fascinating to follow them before their symbiosis and synergy were firmly established. The constant bickering was a source of amusement. Now they're something...different. Perhaps that's just as well, since, in Sirantha Jax's world–where the next jump could be the last, and everything is so fragging intense–you have to grab life as it comes. Different might be better. We'll have to wait and see.

As for the setting, well, I don't read much sci-fi. I do watch a lot of it. Aguirre doesn't waste time trying to acclimate us to Sirantha's universe. But if you've spent some time traveling with space cowboys, can conjure a kaleidoscopic image of nebulous slipstream, and are comfortable in dark, hulking space stations floating lonely in the back of beyond, you'll comprehend it just fine. You'll also recognise that ever-vigilant, supposedly beneficial ruling body–the one that governs planets, spews propaganda, and sees Sirantha Jax as a perfect scapegoat. Problem is, this jumper's not the kind to cooperate, and as we all learned from my favourite sci-fi flick, you just can't stop the signal.

P.S. Aguirre's website includes two related shorts, best read after Grimspace.

March's story fills in some blanks and gives us a peek at the fractured animal he used to be. Vel's story is bittersweet and touching, demonstrating his depth of character. Both made for great reading.

Related free reads.
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Quotes The Flooze Liked

Ann Aguirre
“No matter how interminable something feels, there is always, always an ending. Sometimes that's good, and sometimes it's bad; sometimes it's a matter of indifference, and sometimes it's heartbreaking, and your life is never the same thereafter.”
Ann Aguirre, Grimspace

Ann Aguirre
“I’m not a woman you bring home to Mother, pick out china patterns with, or Mary forefend, breed. I’ve seen a chunk of the universe, true, but there’s still so much more to see. I doubt I’ll ever cure this wanderlust, and I’m content with dedicating my life to failing to sate it... He’s never going to sit at my feet and write me poems, which is good because I hate poetry, except dirty ones that rhyme.”
Ann Aguirre, Grimspace

Ann Aguirre
“Mother Mary of Anabolic Grace, we got Teras incoming?” He levels angry blue eyes on me. “You’re a hex, lady, dark luck, powerful bad juju, ken?”
“Only to people who try to kidnap me,” I tell him sweetly, and March snorts, so I feel obliged to add, “Or rescue me…” And then Dina makes a pfft sound. “Or who travel with me…” My gaze sweeps around the darkened interior, trying to find an ally, but nobody will hold my eyes more than two seconds, it seems. “Fine, frag you all, I’m dark juju, bad luck, and you’re all doomed.”
Ann Aguirre, Grimspace

Ann Aguirre
“We’re both so fucking broken that I understand our strange attraction, a push-pull magnetism born of similar scars.”
Ann Aguirre, Grimspace

Reading Progress

01/24/2010 page 6
1.92% "Sirantha is a hard case and I think I'm in for gritty storytelling. Me gusta."
01/25/2010 page 36
11.54% "There's a five-year-old inside me who wants to kick his shins." 10 comments
01/26/2010 page 130
41.67% "Love how screwed up Sirantha is. And I may have a new crush (as if I needed more fictional men to fiend after)."
01/26/2010 page 156
50.0% "Just looking at him, I want to say he deserves every bit of his roguish reputation. And please, can I be plunder?" 2 comments
01/26/2010 page 230
73.72% "Stayed up all night reading. Going to buy 2 & 3 today. Only issue is with the romance. Hot, but prolly inadvisable." 23 comments

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) You know, I went back and read a lot of your older reviews, last week I think, and I have to say that the more you write the more they get better and better. I really appreciate the time you take in thinking and typing them out. : )

Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror) Oh, and this sounds like an awesome book!

The Flooze ::blush::

Aw, shucks.

You are forgiven for trying to inflict Rachel-frustration on me.

Some of them are so easy. I had this review half-written before I even hit the last page. Others just don't inspire me at all, and I'm scrabbling to put something together. I know how much I appreciate reading reviews from you and a few others though, so that pushes me to do my own!

message 4: by Val (new) - added it

Val Since your fav flick is one of mine, and you have this to say, I am more excited to read this then I was before. Wish I had time to grab this today! Thanks!

The Flooze Hope you enjoy it Val!! :)

Also, did you know that the graphic novel covering Shepherd's background is finally coming out in November? I'm anxious to find out his secrets!

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Terrific review Michelle. I was wavering on this one, even though both you and Laura were so enthusiastic about it, but I'm definitely in now.

The Flooze Wheeee! Thanks!

Uh oh, now I feel the pressure.

The Flooze Please, oh gods of reading, let our beloved Moss like Grimspace so that she might not feel the need to give me the hairy eyeball from halfway 'cross the world. Let it entertain her in amounts at least equal to 2 chocolate bars. For this, we pray. Ommmm...

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)


We call it the flag of blame in our house. If you call it, you have to fly it. Have just ordered it...ooooh

The Flooze Dumdumdummmmm...

I've flown that flag once or twice. Hopefully I won't have to unfurl it again any time soon.

The Flooze Thank you! :)

message 13: by Starsreader (new)

Starsreader nice review. Gonna have 2 find a copy now, thx.

The Flooze Thanks! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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