Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Imposition by Juniper Bell
Imposition by Juniper Gray
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Sci-Fi, GLBT
Length: 215 pages
Summary: Therse Bodan is a Navy Lieutenant of exceptional caliber, approached with an offer of his dream position in the upper echelons of Navy Command. Therse is on a transport cruise ship, returning from a far-flung region of space with only his best friend and chronic under-achiever Genham Drisjic for company when he realizes that if he accepts the offer, he and Genham may never see one another again. Therse wants to confess his long-held feelings for Genham but is afraid he might be pushed away.
The arrival of Meitou, a member of the military's secretive elite, aboard their quiet ship throws them into turmoil, forcing Therse to confront events in his past, and making Genham face up to feelings of his own. And the ship itself is no stranger to dark secrets...
In space, no one can hear you weep.
Even a large spaceship can feel too small when your only crewmate keeps getting in your face. Therse Bodan can't get away from Genham Drisjic, isn't sure he wants to, and has a huge desire to smack Gen when they're together. Imposition by Juniper Gray gives us the complicated course of their careers and relationship.
Therse and Gen go back all the way to their first days as new recruits. Even as cadets they had a stormy relationship, where friendship didn't quite apply, nor did competition. Now, when their career paths could diverge considerably, they are still sparring. Each has his secrets and his guilt, piled on in layers with every major step in their careers.
It isn't enough to be saddled with a cranky AI to run the ship; tensions rise further when Meitou comes aboard. He's a master manipulator; neither Therse nor Gen stand a chance. It was never really clear why Meitou wanted to shake them up, because his agenda seemed larger than toying with them just because he could, although he probably wouldn't turn down the chance for some fun in the course of hitching a ride on the larger ship. It just seems too calculated to be only his travel entertainment.
Gray paints the relationships and the manipulations masterfully – with one arch comment her characters send one another into frenzies of lust, doubt, and self examination. This is the meat of the book; watching Meitou practically reach out to punch a button with a word. Age and treachery beat youth and enthusiasm, and take it to bed, too – there is a lot of sex here, but it all drives the plot. By the time Meitou departs, Therse and Gen are so addled they might just forget to lie to one another.
What seems to be missing is a sense of proportion: one of Gen's actions early in their association is so heinous in its effect that it's surprising the other cadets didn't put him out the friendship airlock, and Therse beats himself up for an offense far more than it could deserve. There are hints of larger plans for Gen that make taking the time to administer Meitou's special brand of attitude adjustment worthwhile, but only hints.
If there's a sequel planned, then many of these issues could be resolved, including the open question of how Therse's promotion will affect the pair. The result could be space opera along the line of David Weber or Elizabeth Moon. What's here is a great romance element and a great set-up for the science fiction element that I'd love to read to the end. Imposition gets our two lieutenants out of their ruts, and we can hope Juniper Gray is planning to give them their worthy opponent. 4 Marbles