cover image Starrie


Heidi Ruby Miller. Raw Dog Screaming/Dog Star, $14.95 trade paper (188p) ISBN 978-1-935738-79-4

Miller’s short third novel in the space-faring, caste-bound, hierarchically polyamorous, and socially striated Ambasadora universe (after 2013’s Greenshift) manages to balance the exoticized presentation of the setting with relatable human interaction. Service-born Ben Anlow and his Armadan military special-ops crew are surprised before their takedown of serial rapist and murderer Liu Stavros to discover that notorious Embassy assassin Naela Starrie has already done the job, though it will almost certainly put a Writ of Execution on her head. Stranded with Ben after a solar flare damages her ship, Naela is equally surprised to discover that Stavros’s head of security is her cousin Efrom, who repeatedly raped Naela as a child and now decides to seek revenge for Stavros’s death. The big-picture world politics are unsatisfyingly vague, but the romance between Ben and Naela highlights the emotional side of reaching out to those who are different from you, even in a world where those differences are stylized and codified. (Apr.)