Saturday, October 10, 2009

Book Report: Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon

Book Report:
Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon
Pseudo military, pseudo sci-fi adventure thriller hurls Kylara Vatta into predicaments that would challenge the most seasoned of trade veterans. But a novice space freight captain, Ky must prove herself apt in matters of business, trading, hostage negotiation, public relations, finance and military intelligence on an off the charts voyage past the brink of civilized somethingorother.
--Kylara "Ky" Vatta
--Glennys Jones (Her ship)
--The crew of the Glennys Jones
--The infamous aunt's fruitcake
--kinda kidding about that... read on.

There is a vague ruse plot device to get Ky kicked out of military academy sufficient for us, the audience, to have nothing to hold against her while understanding that the bridge is burned and that path is over. It also creates a reasonable justification for her to be set out on her assignment.
Ky is the only daughter of the reining generation of the Vatta space trading dynasty. She shocks the family by NOT wanting to pursue the family business, but with all of the older mails in the family, we feel no need to hold that against her. Her expulsion from academy, again is more embarrassing than truly damaging so she holds to her "can do no wrong" image thus far.
In all fairness, her actions are all reasonable and believable. Se behaves sensibly for a person with her background and with careful consideration of the thoughts and motives of the key players in the big picture.
There are times when she is, for lack of a better word, blind-sided by events and whatnot, although these things only happened within the scope of the known unknown. That is... I know this will be a problem, but I know I cannot predict what kind of problem so I just need to be ready for whatever.
Except where boys are concerned. The motivators of the male mind are enigmatic to her because the does not consider that the M/F thing is a factor to them.
Ky is portrayed with, in my opinion, a reasonable image of self which is often lacking in female protagonists. "How so?" Well, in a lot of 'girl books' they often either undervalue their own physical appearance because they run around "gee, I don't understand why ALLLLL the guys are falling over themselves around me." listen up... if the guy does not know you, but is paying you "that much" attention, then 1) you are so hot that he abandon's better judgment to try and get in your pants, or 2) is under the impression that you are so easy that he abandon's better judgment to try and get in your pants when in all reality, it is most likely C) get over yourself... he does that to everyone; you are not that special.
OR, they have a skewed assessment of their ability. Ky is not like Mrs Granger "Oh, mercy me! That is so much harder than I can do! I couldn't possibly live up to that!" then presto - without breaking a sweat - the universe is saved. "Oh, Yippie Yippie! I did it! Everybody look at me!"
So I forgive the way some things work out a little on the convenient side because it is believable that people want to help her. (Obvious McCaffery influences here.)
So There you have Ky.
I love her ship. It is not presented with character, but I read a bit into it. (Mercy - I used the word 'love'. I thing that was the second time this week. I better watch myself.) More on that later.
Okay, so Mama Vatta wants her only daughter to be all domestic and maternal and - well - just so, you know? Pappa Vatta, with a bunch of sons leading the way, understands the little rebel in her.
So, she has to take an old, outdated, no-can-upgrade-to-corporate-standard ship from their home world, to be decommissioned and sold for scrap. While it is going that way anyway, the send it out full of cargo with destinations along the way. (Never missing a good business opportunity is a recurring thing in here - but in a good way.) So, after her first stop, and thus clearing a little room in her hold, She gets another opportunity. Eager to 'do good' and prove herself capable, she takes the job to 1) make a little money, 2) promote the company name and image (because this is like really playing a bit of a hero taking a job no one else will) 3) Assert her command a little.
No, I am not going into the whole story here but...
It is not a simple as it should be. Company A is buying from B but is not paying until delivery, so transport V has to front the money. Captain K is showing she is a big girl and not just playing with "daddy's money" (there is some risk, after all) (and she is afraid of him refusing to let her deviate from the scheduled itinerary) so she is funding this herself and doing it as an "independent". Naturally, this one, simple, and reasonable, little detail creates more than the expected amount of havoc.
She gets bystander'd into a civil war; a mercenary, uhm, raid(?) (So, what exactly were they doing there?) and a tangle with the space-age-whatever-year-this-is equivalent of Ma Bell. (Firefly influence, me thinketh.)
This was a really good read. I hope to pick up the next one before long.

If you made it this far - thanks. If not, well, thanks for trying.

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