cover image Into the Fire

Into the Fire

Elizabeth Moon. Del Rey, $28 (480p) ISBN 978-1-101-88734-9

Nebula-winner Moon extends her long-running Vatta’s War military SF series (after Cold Welcome) with a middling installment set on Slotter Key, the Vatta family’s home planet and center of their commercial empire. Former Admiral Ky Vatta, having escaped a dastardly assassination attempt in deep space, has found herself nearly penniless and blamed for major crimes, with her former crew members either dead or far away. She and her fiancé, Rafe, seek evidence to clear her name, but soon they are embroiled with an insurrection. Grace’s youthful actions have brought on conflicts with other powerful families, who are plotting vengeful sedition against the government. Holding the line are her redoubtable aunt Grace, Slotter Key’s powerful rector of defense, and cousin Stella, CEO of the Vatta family’s vast holdings. This story’s domestic tensions and volleys against military and civilian bureaucracy don’t achieve the heights of Moon’s typical space operatics, though about halfway through, the action heats up. Moon’s powerful female characters send the unmistakable message that whatever men try to do, these women can do much, much better. Agent: Joshua A. Bilmes, JABberwocky Literary. (Feb.)