Hostile Takeover trilogy, book two

Somewhere along the line in Partisan, I noted particular moments of the female protagonists being pretty decent, but there were some flaws. Tetsami the plucky hacker chick spoke up to Dom the tortured wealthy genius cyborg hero to demand that he treat her as an equal partner in their military operation / corporate espionage. I loved it that she *noticed he was dissing her*. In other words she was savvy enough in the world of “Games Mother Never Taught You” to notice subtleties of power politics. On the down side, she didn’t have much to negotiate with other than “You owe it to me for some nebulous reason we cannot quite articulate but that we are both aware of” and that reason is romantic love or sexual tension or both, which I thought utterly sucked as a motivator in anarchist politics. Or, maybe the story’s trying to get across that anarchist politics gets a sort of humanizing rescue from patriarchal romantic love. It wasn’t very convincing politically or romantically though it fit fine in a pulp genre tale. Their “romance” goes like this:

OMG we’re in Danger! Quick, be clever and reckless! Wait, I hate you! Damn you! You bastard! Taxes and damnation!! (anarchist planet cussing) But I only was reckless because you’d really hate me if you knew who I really was! (WANGST MOMENT ALONE WITH MIRRORS CONTEMPLATING CYBORGIAN NATURE) No, I really hate you because you ignored my agency and hid information from me and hogged all the power and don’t communicate or say what you really think, you fucker! That’s why I can’t resist you, James Bond Spock Daddy! *KISS* *something blows up again* *tragic separation*

Oooookay! Sort of works, sort of annoying!

Back to why Tetsami is awesome. She thinks and fights. Fine, she thinks damn near every thought about how she wants some cyborg man-love. But, she also plots, is good at tactics, saves her wounded soldiers, hacks, is brave, gets her own dark secret and angstiness over her genetically modified heritage and cyber-brain-implant, etc. And so far (FINGERS CROSSED) she has not been raped, stripped of all her thoughts and powers and skills, held hostage and rescued while being completely helpless, put into a coma, or mind-wiped a-la-Vernor-Vinge. How extremely unusual for a military sf book. I appreciate that.

Kathy Shane, the ex-Marine and one of the tanks of our Adventuring Party (where Tetsami is the thief or rogue) has some good moments as well. She does try to off herself in a blaze of guilty soldierly glory but instead gets some cyber legs and spends most of book 2 on a dungeon crawl (Swiniarski, I can spot your rpg roots a MILE away) chasing her former soldier and escaped prisoner Houghton whose magical sudden art history background leads her through a 2 day spelunking expedition to the freaking heart of the planet miles below sea level to the ALIEN ARTIFACT CACHE. She didn’t do much else but it resolved her angst neatly, she had some nice banter with Random Walk, the remote drone of the AI of the Adventurers. Again, notably not raped. She gets a love interest too; from moment 1 of meeting Ivor (Tetsami’s adopted father) they have a soldierly little undercurrent of unconscious swoony destiny. They have not yet leaped into bed together but Destiny calls. So that’s nice too actually, while romantic subplots make me throw up a little in my mouth and I hate them as motivating or defining characteristics of female characters, it’s also nice that Shane doesn’t get de-sexed or doesn’t get to have the potential of getting laid just because she’s the tank of the party.

The story has continued moving along. It’s exciting! It’s pulpy! There’s a giant war and a bunch of local star system politics becomes clearer with 4 main arms of the Confederacy vying for power with Bakunin the anarchist planet as the prize. Nanotech! Giant laaaasers! Armored giant transformer-like vehicle porn lovingly described!

Oh I must also note the naming of one of the Vehicles. There is a funny car-buying scene where Tetsami realizes the awesome RV she’s about to buy is Loved by its owner to an extreme. He fetishizes it and caresses its shiny curves and has named it The Lady. Further evidence that Bakunin is not a post-patriarchy anarchy. (And how can that be… I ask in all seriousness.) Tetsami uses that knowledge very well in negotiating with the vehicle’s owner. So she ends up with “The Lady” which is basically the best RV ever with giant battle weapons and an autodoc and mining equipment and everything you could wish on your futuristic wish fulfillment survivalist pave-the-earth mobile living capsule. I took the naming and fetishizing as evidence of post-patriarchy while Zond-7 thought it meant sort of high status or respect of women ie “Lady” but I pointed out that still conflated property with women and vice versa and owning a high status (or named to be) woman/vehicle was a way to confer status (and not to the owned party) and also the trope of naming a slave or pet with a name like Duke or Cicero (which he was not aware of at all). Again a passage that would be illuminated by complete regendering. If it sounds hilarious regendered, it’s probably not post patriarchy.

The moment where Dom is looking at himself in a hundred reflections of reflections of himself in the polished walls of the obsidian cave would also be somewhat “off” if regendered. It might make a nice literary experiment.


Leave a Reply