Grimspace - Ann Aguirre I haven't had much luck finding new, entertaining brain candy lately and the drought continues.

I feel about Grimspace the way I feel about the rebooted Star Trek: I like the character (Sirantha Jax) but the story she's stuck in isn't very good. In the future, starships navigate using humans with the J-gene, a mutation that allows Sirantha and her compatriots to "see" beacons left behind by an unknown alien race and get ships safely from point to point. The technology doesn't seem well thought out. At one point, the crew of Svetlana's Folly, Jax's ship, spend three weeks moving from a grimspace exit point to a space station yet - when they escape from the station - they're only 36 hours away from another planet. And later Sirantha is lured back to joining the Folly's crew when she learns that Dina, the engineer, is planning on taking Sirantha's place even though she doesn't have the J-gene. Umm...how could this be convincing when, supposedly, no one lacking the gene can navigate through grimspace?

And then there's the absurd romance between Jax and her pilot, March. An atoning mercenary who's devoted his here-to-fore wasted life to breaking the monopoly of the Farwan Corporation, which controls the training and indoctrination of every human with the J-gene. It's a case of reluctant attraction at first sight and two cringe-worthy sex scenes because (you know) sex between a navigator and her pilot is so intense since they're intimately connected through the jump and - in this case - March has psionic powers.

The story reads like a script for a Hollywood SF blockbuster with all the stock characters and all the stock encounters, including a scene where the token alien on the ship's crew can sacrifice himself.

That said, Sirantha Jax is a fun character to adventure with. She's a refreshingly nonself-delusional person who quickly realizes she's out of her depth (though, in the spirit of the Hollywood blockbuster, she winds up able to do things like pilot spaceships and operate the ship's weaponry despite having no training in either - sigh). As long as she wasn't mooning over March, I liked her voice. I just wish she wasn't stuck in such a cookie-cutter storyline.