Sharon Lee and Steve Miller continue to please with this latest installment in the Liaden Universe series. Theo Waitley, now First Pilot on the sentient ship Bechimo, is in the process of deciding whether she’s going to bond with the ship permanently as its Captain. She and the Bechimo are being pursued, together and separately, by the Department of the Interior. Despite that fact, she goes out to establish a new trade route for Clan Korval, with former Juntavas Boss Clarence O’Berin sitting as Co-pilot.
Theo’s former lover Win Ton is confined in Bechimo’s restructuring facility, something a step beyond the autodoc, where he is being rebuilt cell by cell after being tortured by the Department of the Interior in its pursuit of the Bechimo. There’s no guarantee that Win Ton will survive the process, or what shape he’ll be in when it is completed.
They aren’t far into the route when they receive a distress signal from space station Codrescu, in orbit around Eylot, the planet where Theo began training as a Pilot. The political situation on Eylot has come to a head, and all Pilots there are in danger. Codrescu has put out an emergency call for help, so Theo takes Bechimo to the rescue — despite the fact that she has good reason to never want to see that system again.
Theo is a very young woman, but growing by leaps and bounds. She makes any decision that doesn’t rely on social intelligence very well, guided by good basic instincts and other types of intelligence. Her social skills still leave much to be desired, but she’s slowly improving those and she knows she has a weakness in that area.
It is always a joy to read a Liaden novel, but watching Theo grow up adds a new dimension of pleasure to the reading. While I’ve paused to read and re-read some of the chapbooks in order to put off the time before I ran out of new material, the time is here now. I’m back to the same old complaint: I want more, now! Please?