cover image The City Who Fought

The City Who Fought

Anne McCaffrey. Baen Books, $19 (435pp) ISBN 978-0-671-72166-4

This space adventure further develops McCaffrey's vivid future universe of diversified cultures, technological wonders and twisted, sometimes corrupt, politics. Space Station SSS-900C, a profitable but out-of-the-way trading and mining center, is attacked by Kolnari, pirates from a planet of sociopathic exiles. While awaiting the arrival of the Central Worlds' Navy, the inhabitants play for time with a major deception planned by Simeon, the shellperson operating the station, whose hobby is the study of early warfare, including guerrilla tactics. (Shellpeople, damaged while young by accident or birth defect and encased in life-support systems, are wired into and control sophisticated technology such as space stations, cities and spaceships, while maintaining their own personalities and emotions.) Central to the scheme is obedience to all the Kolnari's demands while keeping secret the fact of Simeon's existence, since if the Kolnari gained control of the technically sophisticated shellperson they would have an intolerable advantage. As Simeon clandestinely builds his trap for the Kolnari, he wistfully watches and encourages a love affair between Channa Hap, the woman he loves and cannot have, and a noble refugee. McCaffrey (The Dragonriders of Pern series, The Ship Who Sang ) and Stirling (the Draka series) create vivid heroes and villains in a complex and deadly game. (Apr . )