Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What a POD Peep Reads: Silent Dances (StarBridge Book 2)

Title: Silent Dances (StarBridge #2)
Genre: science fiction
Price: $4.95 Kindle
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

A while back, I did a “What A POD Peep Reads” segment on StarBridge, A. C. Crispin’s debut SF novel.  While on vacation last week, I found myself tired of touring and facing a nice hotel pool and a warm, sunny day.  So, I fired up my tablet device, purchased and downloaded Silent Dances, book two in the series, and settled in for poolside for a good read.

Crispin’s first novel, StarBridge, ended with the creation of the StarBridge Academy, a site dedicated to training young humans and aliens to interact peacefully and work to discover other alien species.  Silent Dances starts a number of years later, with one of the academy’s recent graduates, Tesa, a Native American woman born deaf, getting two offers.  One involves returning to Earth and getting her hearing restored.  The other involves going to Trinity, a planet occupied by an intelligent but primitive bird-like species called the Grus.  They are contradictory tasks, as the bird’s alarm cries are loud enough to (literally) deafen and even kill humans.

Tesa takes the offer to go to Trinity, where she has to work with a small human crew to prove that the Grus are intelligent enough to be brought into the Cooperative League of Systems.  At the same time, somebody is killing Grus for their skins, and factions of a rival alien species would love to embarrass and discredit humans.  In short, it’s a sticky situation, especially for a nineteen-year-old on her first mission.

Crispin and her co-author O’Malley put a lot of work into thinking about how an avian society would work, in part based on O’Malley’s work with whooping cranes.  They also put a lot of effort into understanding the culture of people born deaf (“Deaf”) who don’t see themselves as disabled and have no interest in becoming Hearing.  Lastly, Tesa was raised on a living museum on Earth, and knows the ways of primitive life, something that will come in quite handy.

Silent Dances is, simply put, a romp.  There’s action and adventure on nearly every page, tied to well-written characters that the reader cares about.  The alien society feels real, and the humans (good and bad) are believable.  One of Tesa’s jobs is unraveling a mystery, which makes this book both SF and mystery.  Lastly, although this is Book Two of a series, everything you need to know about Book One (which is not much) is contained in Book Two.  Silent Dances stands alone, and I really enjoyed reading it.

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