Genre: science fiction: space opera
Pairings: f/f, m/f
Queer Representation: cis lesbian
Warnings: delightful social commentary
Rating: five stars
I’m embarrassed to admit that this was my first Scalzi book. I’d followed him on Twitter for a while and his sense of humor worked for me. When THE CONSUMING FIRE popped up on my review site, I thought, hey, why not? I like space opera, he writes space opera, and clearly knows something about writing what with all the awards he’s won.
And wow, was I glad I took the chance. Unexpected lesbian content!
The full, pro review is here. At its heart this was the quintessential space opera. Intergalactic politics. Feuding families. Hints of romance. Religions that easily mirror modern monotheistic dogma. As with any good science fiction there was a healthy dose of political commentary as well, torching uptight scientists (that might have hit a little close to home) and power-hungry politicians (who put power above the good of humanity) in the same breath.
Plenty of plot lines and point of view characters wound through the story. Of particular importance for this blog was the arc of Kiva Lagos, a particularly foul-mouthed (love!) woman who is put in charge of one of the more corrupt houses in the Interdependency. Kiva uncovers corruption (shocking!), earns the ire of the former head of the house and then of course, ends up the victim of various assassination plots. She also ends up falling for the mole sent to spy on her which really, sounds less than romantic but the whole book is a bit tongue and cheek, and the romance between Kiva and Senia Fundapellonan is just… well, it’s satisfying. There’s really no better way to describe a relationship that starts off with, at the head of chapter 7:
Kiva Lagos was in the middle of receiving some perfectly serviceable oral when her table pinged.
I mean, sign me up.
Kiva’s story (outside of the perfectly serviceable oral) is central to the main arc, and its her interactions with her lover and the Emperox that were the most engaging (in terms of character engagement. Plot engagement was strong amongst all the POV characters). Scenes that the Emperox and Kiva shared, especially in the final chapter, were far more than ‘serviceable,’ and the book ending had that sort of smug and fulfilling satisfaction that always comes at the end of a good shoot-em-up or -get-the-bad-guy book.
It’s the kind of feeling you got when you watched A New Hope for the first time, but without the bitterness of knowing that Leia was probably the only woman allowed to speak in the whole galaxy, and that meant opportunities for her to boink another woman were in no way possible.
So live your dream, queer space opera nerds. I promise you won’t regret it.