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REVIEW: Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair

Dear Ms. Sinclair,

Games of Command, your science fiction romance, begins shortly after an alliance is formed between the Triad and the United Coalition. Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian, formerly of the United Coalition, is surprised to learn that she has been assigned to the Vaxxar, a huntership under the command of the biocybernetic Admiral Branden Kel-Paten. When Tasha was working for the United Coalition, the “Tin Soldier” was her nemesis, and on the Vaxxar, Kel-Paten continues to dog her heels, so Sass believes he doesn't trust her.

Tasha and Kel-Paten each have a secret they are keeping from one another. In Tasha's case, the secret is that she is really the notorious “Lady Sass,” a rim runner who supposedly died in prison. In Kel-Paten's case, his secret is that he has been in love with Tasha for years, and his many run-ins with her in the past were orchestrated by Kel-Paten partly so that he could have a glimpse of her.

If Sass's secret is found out, the crucial alliance could be torn apart, and the United Coalition and the Triad could both fall prey to their mutual enemies. If the half-human Kel-Paten's secret is discovered, he could be dismantled, because as a biocybe, he is not supposed to feel emotions other than occasional justified anger. Kel-Paten has had to override his programming to nurture his passion for Sass, and to hide those feelings to ensure their survival as well as his own.

One person on board the Vaxxar does suspect Kel-Paten's feelings. Dr. Eden Fynn, one of the crewmembers that Sass brought with her to the Vaxxar, is an empath, and she senses that Kel-Paten feels strong emotions for her captain. But Eden is at first preoccupied by the mysterious deaths of the crew of another ship, apparently from terror, and later with Jace Serafino, a longtime enemy of Kel-Paten's, mercenary and spy the Alliance has ordered Kel-Paten and Sass to capture.

Just as the Vaxxar is chasing Serafino's ship, a vortex opens in space. Both ships make it, but Serafino's is damaged and he is left comatose. In his sleep he manages to communicate with Eden, and reveal that he is a telepath and that she must be as well. Serafino and Eden feel an almost irresistible romantic pull to one another, even though they've just met.

Serafino tells Eden that Psy-Serv, the same Triad agency that has programmed Kel-Paten to feel no emotions, forced Serafino to have his brain implanted with something that limits his telepathic abilities, and will do something similar to Eden if they realize that she too, has telepathic abilities.

From Serafino, Eden learns that within the Alliance is a faction of former Triadians who are plotting a coup. Serafino suspects that Kel-Paten, whom he has loathed for years, may be part of this faction and therefore a danger to Eden, Sass and other crewmembers. But with the implant controlling Serafino's powers, he can't scan Kel-Paten to be sure if this is the case, and Eden is not a strong enough telepath. Neither of them knows if the emotions they sense Kel-Paten feels for Sass are real or some kind of psychic cover for a plot to harm her.

Eden has no idea how to remove Serafino's implant, but she shares her concerns with Sass and together they come up with a plan that involves deceiving Kel-Paten. Another unknown for Eden is whether Serafino will be the same man she's falling in love with when his implant is removed. Meanwhile, Sass and Eden's pet furzels sense something dangerous aboard the Vaxxar

If this is a lot of plot summary, it's because there is a lot of plot. But for a book that is well over 500 pages long, Games of Command flew by. I had a blast reading this book, and what I liked best about it was Branden Kel-Paten.

It's not an everyday occurrence in my reading life to find a romantic hero whose happiness I want so badly. There is a duality within Kel-Paten, who doesn't quite know how to reconcile his machine half with his human half. He believes that Sass would be repulsed by his mechanical arms and legs, the scars he carries from the operations that made him a biocybe, and he hates it when the woman he loves sees him electronically connect to the ship.

Kel-Paten's programming makes it difficult for him to come up with a suitable response when Sass cracks a joke, but though he doesn't know how to show it, he would do nearly anything for her. His shyness, vulnerability and inexperience with women endeared him to me so much that I felt every distrusting remark or warm look Sass gave him almost as acutely as he did.

Sass was perhaps a more conventional heroine of the kick-ass variety, wisecracking, quick-thinking, and good at improvising. I liked her warmth, her resourcefulness, and the fear she tried to cover up when she realized that she had feelings for Kel-Paten and that he might not return them if he learned the truth of her past. I especially liked the pairing that she and Kel-Paten made. Yes, it really warmed my heart for once to read a book in which the geeky (but ever-so-appealing) boy gets the girl of his dreams.

For me, Eden Fynn and Jace Serafino's romance was less interesting, because they fell in love so quickly, but as the plot kept moving forward in the sections that focused on them, I was never bored even during those parts. Eden was another likeable character, a compassionate doctor with a strong sense of responsibility to her patients. I was slower to warm to Serafino, since I was firmly in Kel-Paten's corner and the two were enemies, and since Serafino, with his tendency to call Eden “sweetling” seemed a little slick for my taste. But I did grow to like him better when he came to some important realizations.

As for Tank and Reilly, those furry furzels, though they skated close to the edge of too cute, they proved to be heartwarming in their loyalty. I felt that the prose could have been a bit more polished, but it made up for much of that in verve and energy. The pacing was fast, the world-building thorough. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to read a romance set in the future in which the science fiction aspect doesn't feel like it was thrown together in a slap-dash way. Instead, it reads as though you really gave it thought.

I was left with some questions about Kel-Paten's past. Specifically, how and why did he become a biocybe? Was it the result of an injury, or was he healthy and whole when the wires and computers were implanted in him? Did he volunteer for this dangerous operation, or was he given no choice?

I still really want to know the answer to these questions, but the fact that I'm still asking them is a mark of your success in creating an original character, one who feels real and (yes) human. One who is easy to root for and difficult to forget. So for all its effervescent charms and especially for Branden Kel-Paten, I give Games of Command a B+.

Sincerely,

Janine

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven books. Examples include novels by Shana Abe, Loretta Chase, Patricia Gaffney, Cecilia Grant, Judith Ivory, Carolyn Jewel, Laura Kinsale, Julie Anne Long, Alison Richardson, Nalini Singh and Pam Rosenthal. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, "Kiss of Life", appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com. or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

36 Comments

  1. May
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 06:13:47

    Janine, I’ve not started reading Sinclair. Can I start with Games of Command? Or should I be starting with something else?

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  2. Barbara B.
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 07:05:40

    Thanks for the great review. I can’t ever get enough cyborg stories. I absolutely love them!

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  3. Eva Gale
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 07:44:52

    Linnea is over at Romance Divas giving a workshop (free) and it is fantastic. She is amazing and not only a great writer, but an excellent teacher as well.

    Picking this one up. I read Accidental Goddess years ago before Spectra republished it and thought it was incredible.

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  4. Bev(BB)
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 08:06:09

    So far none of her books in paperback are strongly connected so you could start with any of them and they’re all good. If she’s published Wintertide in paperback already there is a distant connect between it and Accidental Goddess, as in many, many hundred years, but you don’t have to read either first.

    My personal favorite is Gabriel’s Ghost. Sigh. It’s told in first person from the heroine’s point of view, however, so keep that in mind.

    Although I was really, really impressed with this expansion of Command Performance (ebook) into Games of Command. Wow-ed is actually more like it. So, it would definitely be a good one to start with.

    Oh, and Wintertide is more pure fantasy and my least favorite of hers. More of a personal journey of the heroine with very little romance.

    Nice review, Janine. See, I do read them occasionally. When interested. :D

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  5. Sarah McCarty
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 09:31:34

    Just preordered!!

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  6. Keishon
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 10:07:33

    Have you read Catherine Asaro yet? The Phoenix Code (hope that’s correct) features a cyborg as well & the story stayed with me long after the last page was finished.

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  7. Janine
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 10:44:28

    May, I agree with Bev (BB). This is the first Sinclair book I’ve read, so I think it’s fine to start with this one.

    Barbara B., can you recommend other cyborg stories for me? Now that I’ve enjoyed this on so much, I want more!

    Eva Gale, I’ll have to try Accidental Goddess sometime.

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  8. May
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 10:48:06

    I’ll do that.

    THanks Bev and Janine.

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  9. Janine
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 10:58:58

    Bev (BB) – Thanks! :) I saw on Linnea Sinclair’s website that she’s working on a sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost. I think I’ll look into reading Gabriel’s Ghost sometime, since it’s your favorite. That’s the one that won the RITA last year, isn’t it?

    Sarah McCarty – I hope you enjoy Games of Command!

    Keishon – I have read one Asaro, The Veiled Web. I liked her writing style very much and enjoyed the story, but somehow it hasn’t sent me running to her backlist. Which of her books do you recommend that I read next?

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  10. Keishon
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 11:39:58

    The Phoenix Code by Catherine Asaro. If your looking for other cyborg stories to read, highly recommend that one.

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  11. Janine
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 11:49:34

    Thanks Keishon, I will add it to my list of books to buy.

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  12. Devon
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 16:31:23

    I’ve been waiting for this one since I blogged about Cyborgs last November (I think) and Bev recommended it. I’ll be looking for the Asaro one, and if anyone knows of any others, recs would be greatly appreciated. I could’ve sworn I had read about one, but then I couldn’t find it.

    Great review Janine! I’m even more excited now.

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  13. Janine
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 17:19:44

    I have heard that the hero of Susan Squires’ Body Electric is an artificial intelligence in a human body. Would that count? I have not read that book, but I’ve enjoyed a couple of others by Squires, although her books can be quite violent.

    Glad you enjoyed the review, Devon. I hope you like Games of Command.

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  14. Linnea Sinclair
    Feb 23, 2007 @ 23:16:58

    Dear Janine,
    I’m tickled you enjoyed Sass, Branden and the crew. Yes, the furzels are overly cute. Didn’t you notice the one on the cover? That is actually my personal furzel. Uh, cat. That’s Daiquri, aka the Daq Man aka The Daq Attack. Twenty+ pounds of Maine Coon luv. The image on the cover is from photos I supplied to the cover artist, Stephen Youll.

    The furzels may be overly cute but sugarbuns, they’re accurate. Come to Florida and meet Daq. He’s always willing to be worshipped and you’ll find out that, yep, that’s just the way they are. (Food? Food?)

    At any rate, many thanks for your consideration of GAMES and your kind comments. This week has been hell for me. A Lexus ran a traffic light last Saturday evening and thwacked a pickup towing a trailer, that thwacked me. Okay, thwacked my car. My birthday present car. ::sigh:: Brand new. ::sigh:: That hurts almost as bad as my back and neck. But I’m alive–if in major ouchie land–so that’s a huge plus. Daq would miss me if I weren’t here to be his human slave.

    Branden. Hmm. GAMES OF COMMAND grew out of a book I wrote for a small press house back in 2001: COMMAND PERFORMANCE. There was also a sequel: COMMAND DECISION. The latter was never published because the publisher went kaflooey. When Bantam bought me in 2004, they didn’t want a series. So I had to mush about 300,000 words into 123,000 words called GAMES OF COMMAND. Hence, some things got left out. Kinda sorta.

    Branden was (and I do believe this is in the book unless Bantam cut things I’m unaware of) part of an experiment. Serafino alludes to this, FYI. There were others created but he was the only one who survived. He was specifically bred to be a bio-cybe (Uh, you did figure out who his father is, yes? And his brother?) but the cybernetic operations didn’t take place until he was in his mid-late teens (this is also alluded to in the book). It wasn’t somethign he volunteered for but he never had a choice. He was born and bred to be what he is. No one ever figured he’d object. ;-)

    I have a Branden-Sass short story on my site you might enjoy. Written many moons ago. FYI. Branden and Sass are characters who’ve lived with me nigh on twenty years. Honest. Yeppers. That long. He was a mere captain when I first met him. Uh, I mean, when SASS first met him. Sheesh. ::Linnea smacks self. OW! Not a good idea with whiplash:: Amazing the two of them have only aged about 6 years in all that time but that’s FTL space travel for you. Better than botox…

    I’m rambling. Sorry. At any rate, I hope that clears up some things for you. Many thanks to all of you who’ve posted such nice things about my books (and my workshops!). When I’m not involved in traffic accidents, I do answer every reader email that makes it through the Jaws of Spam Hell (aka Zone Alarm Spam filter) into my computer, so if anyone has any other Qs on my books or my characters, holler my way via email. Just keep in mind my computer time right now is greatly reduced due to the accident. Stinks, I know. Know what’s worse? I can’t easily climb onto a barstool anymore. Locked up my right hip trying to do that Thursday evening. Can’t write. Can’t drink. I may have to go shoe shopping for therapy.

    Hugs all, ~Linnea

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  15. Janine
    Feb 24, 2007 @ 14:14:16

    Hi Linnea, thanks for stopping by. I’m so sorry to hear about your car accident. That sounds awful. I wish you a speedy recovery and hopefully, a new car you love just as much from the insurance company.

    I did notice the furzel, er, cat, on the cover, and I’m a cat lover in real life. When reading books I am something of a curmudgeon when it comes to cute animals and children, but sometimes they win me over there too, and such was the case with Games of Command. Notice I said that the furzels “skated close to the edge” of too cute. They were flirting with it, but didn’t actually cross the line into too-cute-for-Janine. I also said that the furzels “proved to be heartwarming in their loyalty.” By the time I reached the end of the book, I was enjoying it so much that I forgot to be curmudgeonly. I had no accuracy issues with them, either.

    Thanks for explaining Branden’s past. I picked up on who his dad and brother were as well as on the fact that he was part of an experiment and that he was the only one who survived, but I was very curious about the nature of the experiment. I didn’t realize he was specifically bred for this experiement, and I wanted to know whether the Triad forced him into it or whether he had a choice, as well as whether they took healthy people for this experiment or those who were already missing some limbs. Thanks for explaining.

    I will check out the Branden and Sass short story on your site. I know I will enjoy reading more about them. And twenty years… no wonder they are such well defined characters. I enjoyed reading about them very much and will definitely read more of your books in the future.

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  16. Carla
    Feb 26, 2007 @ 10:28:47

    Just a quick note from Linnea’s publicity/promotional slave *eg*. I was a reviewer in a former life, and that’s how Linnea and I first met online…oy…I don’t even know how long ago, now. 8 years, maybe? YIKES!

    I want to thank you, Janine, for such a well-thought-out and well-written review. I’m so glad you enjoyed GoC- I can’t wait to get my own grubby paws on it! GABRIEL’S GHOST has a very warm place in my heart, and I recommend it highly to anyone who has not yet read Linnea. It would make an incredible movie, IMHO, too. Not that I don’t love her other books – she has such a quick wit about her, her characterization whether main or secondary (Ren!!) is flawless, and she’s fairly high on the intelligence scale. *eg*

    Did I say a quick note? *blushing* Anybody who knows me knows I ramble. Sorry about that!

    Carla Arpin : )

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  17. Bev(BB)
    Feb 26, 2007 @ 11:01:24

    Gabriel’s Ghost was the book that sold me on Linnea as a writer because it was in first person and I loved it and I more or less hate first person romances . . . anybody that can do that gets my attention fast. :D

    Sigh.

    ‘Course, I have to admit that there are aspects to the ebook version I miss and I whined to her about it. I know why they got changed in the print version but I still miss them. Sniff. What can I say, I liked the Gothic feel of the book and the things I miss were very Gothic touches.

    Double sigh.

    The thing is, though, that each of her books have been unique enough stories that I’ve enjoyed them all but Gabriel’s Ghost and Games of Command have special places because of the heroes. Two extra special heroes in both of them, that’s for sure. They each got their special, strong heroines, too, though. ;)

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  18. Janine
    Feb 26, 2007 @ 11:55:29

    Thanks, Carla and Bev. I’ll look for Gabriel’s Ghost. It will probably be the print version that I get though, Bev.

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  19. Bev(BB)
    Feb 26, 2007 @ 12:19:43

    Well, heck, I’m not even sure the ebook version is still available anywhere come to think of it. I have a treasured copy, however, that I’ve read and reread several times. :D

    html – which didn’t get eaten in the conversion to Ebookwise either because they were on my computer, I might add.

    Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to ask Jane if there’s anyway to convert old Gemstar books to new reader. Always assuming I can assess them, of course. Or has she addressed this in a post already.

    And speaking of rereading those old ebooks, I almost reread Command Performance before reading Games of Command but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m glad I didn’t. The changes were big enough that I think it would’ve only confused me if I had. This wasn’t simply a reediting. This was major expansion and rewrite of second part the older book.

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  20. Janine
    Feb 26, 2007 @ 15:18:15

    I don’t know the answer to your questions (I’m not nearly as tech savvy as Jane) but I emailed Jane and hopefully she’ll see this and respond.

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  21. Jane
    Feb 26, 2007 @ 15:31:34

    Bev, I don’t know but here is a link that might help you.
    Gemstar conversions

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  22. Sarah McCarty
    Mar 01, 2007 @ 20:13:56

    Janine and Linnea,

    My copy came yesterday and I’m just loving it.

    Thanks.

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  23. Janine
    Mar 01, 2007 @ 20:18:22

    That’s great! :) Thanks for telling me. I love hearing from people after they’ve read a book I’ve blogged about, but it doesn’t always happen.

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  24. Linnea Sinclair
    Mar 01, 2007 @ 21:31:10

    Thanks so much, Sarah and Janine! Daq cat sends whisker kisses to you all…well, to everyone on this blog who doesn’t mind the slightly fishy smell… :-) Daq just wants to make sure you realize he’s the real star of the book. Forget humans. Furzels rule! (He’s making me type this, you know…)

    Hugs all, ~Linnea

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  25. Emma
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 13:55:55

    I just finished this one this morning — bleary-eyed, because it kept me up till the wee hours of the morning as well! Gabriel’s Ghost is still my favorite (and I’d be massively curious to read the original, shorter e-book); I think I enjoy it most because it has the best balance between the development of the romance and the development of a kick-ass, totally enthralling plot. Or, to be more precise, the plot in that book pushed forward the romance, and vice-versa, in amazingly organic ways. In GoC, I found the plot and romance didn’t mesh quite so well; looking at my stack of Sinclairs, I think it’s going to rank below G’sG and Finders Keepers but well above Accidental Goddess. I also had a bit of a problem with the Serafino/Fynn plot; now that I know this is two books smushed into one, I wonder if I might have felt differently had I encountered this subplot in its original format, where the romance no doubt had some time to grow into credibility, and seemed more necessary to the unfolding action.

    Either way, I felt that GoC once again demonstrated that Sinclair is majorly gifted at what she does, and I really, really hope that she will be the author who turns things around for the long-maligned subgenre of sci fi romance. In terms of the future of that subgenre, it seems like the current industry trends might make for a launchpad moment, what with paranormals being so popular. In fact, some of those paranormal authors (like Nalini Singh — or even JD Robb) are verging so closely on sci-fi that it might perhaps behoove us to consider what the difference between sci-fi and paranormal romance might be. — Or, for that matter, if we want sci-fi and futuristic to be categories distinct from each other, as well. But if Singh’s Psi in fact had space travelling technology, technology which never factored into the plot but was nevertheless mentioned, would people be more likely to call her books sci-fi or futuristic romance? (Would people be less likely to buy them for that very reason?) I guess I don’t understand why this subgenre is still faltering, and why there might still be a knee-jerk aversion to it among people who have now taken to voraciously consuming futuristic or contemporary paranormals. I’m rooting for Sinclair to convert them all!

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  26. Linnea Sinclair
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 14:53:17

    Ah, Emma! The maligned sub-genre of SFR. I often call it the bastard child of two parents who hate each other: SF and Romance.

    I don’t know why the knee-jerk reaction. I only know it exists. I know I sit at the signing table at Barnes & Noble and a gal comes to my table and picks up my book and when I tell her it’s “Star Trek with Sex” (my immediate tag-line), she asks: “You mean, sci fi?” When I say yes, she drops the book and says: “Oh, I can’t read that. I’m not smart enough.”

    The reverse happens with male readers: they can’t read romance and moreover, romance has no part in science fiction (evidently they’re all test-tube cloned humans…).

    I’ve blogged on the subject, has have others:
    http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2006/06/why-do-sf-readers-boldly-go.html

    http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2006/07/romancing-sf-shy-romance-reader.html

    Keep in mind I’m an authority only to my own experiences. But it’s food for thought.

    Glad you enjoyed GAMES (even if not as much as GABRIEL’S) and I’m honored to be in a ‘stack’ in your house! Hugs, ~ Linnea

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  27. Janine
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 16:16:51

    I just finished this one this morning — bleary-eyed, because it kept me up till the wee hours of the morning as well!

    So I guess my recommendations are doing a good job of keeping you sleep-deprived, LOL.

    Gabriel’s Ghost is still my favorite (and I’d be massively curious to read the original, shorter e-book); I think I enjoy it most because it has the best balance between the development of the romance and the development of a kick-ass, totally enthralling plot. Or, to be more precise, the plot in that book pushed forward the romance, and vice-versa, in amazingly organic ways.

    I have to get my hands on this book.

    Regarding the resistence to science fiction romances, I know that I haven’t always been keen to pick them up, because sometimes the science fiction aspect feels just kind of thrown together and doesn’t always make sense. One of the things I liked so well about Games of Command is that the science seemed very well thought out in this book, and yet the romance was very satisfying too.

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  28. Eva Gale
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 21:21:55

    Well, I just got done with Gabriel’s Ghost and it is on my keeper shelf. Had to keep willing my eyelids not to close, but it was worth every word. Onto Games of Command.

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  29. Emma
    Mar 09, 2007 @ 21:47:17

    Janine, you wicked woman, yes — first with JR Ward, and now with the Sinclair, your reviews this week have prompted me to morph into an antisocial, sleep-deprived, and very happy reader!

    Linnea, I followed that link you provided. Interesting read. I think you’re hitting on some interesting issues by framing of “sci-fi romance” as a bastard child unwanted by both parents. Gender politics definitely come into play in a way they can’t in, say, mystery-romance crossovers (it would be hard for “womanly concerns” to be dismissed as “inauthentic” to a genre that hosts Agatha Christie and a million and one cozies). Despite LeGuin, Norton et al, sci fi has been and remains, for some reason, an old boy’s club (cf blogosphere reactions to the Harlan Ellison Connie Willis scandal, 2006 — or, in the TV world, the horror at the BSG “quadrangle of doom”). And since romance outsells sci-fi in such huge numbers, it doesn’t seem totally outlandish to me that sci-fi fans who dislike the genre could be afraid that the growing influence of romance in “their” shelves might spell the gradual eradication of the sorts of books they like. Good god, the mushiness is contaminating everything! (Silly talk, but understandable all the same.) My question: is this kneejerk fear of romance also visible in female fantasy writers? I don’t know how the sci-fi world divides itself when it comes to convention and bitchery time, whether the Asaros/Friedmans and the Rawns/Douglasses/Shinns shall never see themselves in the same genre, that sort of thing. I’d be curious to know, because it does seem as though the fantasy authors have been more likely to incorporate romantic subplots (Armstrong, Briggs etc.), or to make wholesale leaps into romance. (I wonder, is this considered a wise move in terms of reaping more sales? I would expect so, but maybe there’s a fear of losing the earlier readership?)

    Did you always see yourself as a romance author? GofC is the first of your novels I’ve ever found shelved in romance; heretofore I’ve found your stuff in the sci-fi/fantasy section.

    Glad you enjoyed GAMES (even if not as much as GABRIEL’S) and I’m honored to be in a ‘stack’ in your house! Hugs, ~ Linnea

    Yes, you’re in a stack, and you’d better make sure it continues to grow! :)

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  30. Devon
    Mar 10, 2007 @ 10:04:20

    I really, really enjoyed this book. A lot. I absolutely adored Branden. He’s definitely in my top heroes list now.

    I wanted to address the scifi/romance issue that people have brought up. As a teen, I used to sneak my mom’s romances at night, But for years and years my genres of choice were mystery, fantasy and horror. But I always enjoyed romantic elements in my books. All my faves had some kind of romantic subplot. Not surprisingly, when I started reading romance again, it was during the rise of paranormal romance. I like my genres smushed together and I think a lot of people do. I think that the success of authors like Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris, and Kim Harrison attest to that. These authors have strong elements from several genres at once at work.

    I think what’s happened with the paranormal glut is that the paranormal elements are starting to take on a wallpaper feel. Y’know, some fangs and fur thrown in there, but otherwise it could be any contemporary. Plus it’s growing very reliant on cliches. A lot of the more recent paranormals are lacking that thought and commitment that brought them to life.

    I thought we were talking about SciFi here? Ok, now I’ll try to get on point. Although I watch a lot of SciFi, I haven’t read a lot. When I have tried to branch out into the futuristic field, I found that wallpaper effect at work. The extent of the world building seemed to be cutesy lingo and slang, and maybe some kinky sex. What distinguished GofC for me was the fully realized world and characters that I could get into and get behind . Most of what I read is set in some kind of alternate universe, it’s the level of depth and detail that the author brings to it that makes it work.

    I’m being really long winded without getting to a point. Ok, what I’m trying to say here is that the success of the Urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres seem to point to the fact that readers like a mix in their books. If there were more well written and marketed books like Ms. Sinclair’s, maybe sci/fi/futuristic could step in to fill the needs of people getting burned out on paranormals.

    I’m just babbling. Sorry. Off to pole dancing class.

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  31. Bev(BB
    Mar 10, 2007 @ 10:25:54

    I’m being really long winded without getting to a point. Ok, what I’m trying to say here is that the success of the Urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres seem to point to the fact that readers like a mix in their books. If there were more well written and marketed books like Ms. Sinclair’s, maybe sci/fi/futuristic could step in to fill the needs of people getting burned out on paranormals.

    Ah, the elusive half-&-half. I remember way back to the very first time I raved, er, posted about Linnea’s books on RRA, I think. I could probably dig out the post and find it said the were the first time I’d ever run across someone who actually wrote half romance and half science fiction, that elusive blend of a no holds barred romance set against a fully fleshed out science fiction reality.

    Catherine Asaro comes close but even in her The Quantum Rose I still felt like the science fiction was overshadowing the romance by more than that equal measure. What’s really amazing is that for the most part that “equal dose” is there in each of Linnea’s stories except Wintertide and technically it’s fantasy. They truly could be labeled either way.

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  32. Janine
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 11:15:50

    I couldn’t get Linnea’s second link to work, but I think I found that blog post at this link. I’m off to read it now.

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  33. Linnea Sinclair
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 11:40:27

    If there were more well written and marketed books like Ms. Sinclair’s, maybe sci/fi/futuristic could step in to fill the needs of people getting burned out on paranormals.

    Ah, it’s the marketing angle that’s the kicker. Marketing my books seems to try the patience of even the most saintly gurus at Bantam. They’ve been buying me ad space in LOCUS. I’ve been buying my own ad space in ROMANTIC TIMES BOOKREVIEWS.

    My covers are decidedly SF though Bantam is mulling that situation.

    And sorry about the long URL–I need to use the tiny-url site more often.

    I will here. One woman who has really been ignored in this whole SFR thing is–IMHO–one of the early frontrunners, author Jaqueline Lichtenberg. She blogs with me and I’m constantly in awe of her experience and insight. She’s been writing “intimate adventure” as part of SF since the 1980s. Here’s a tad for your notebook:
    http://tinyurl.com/yr2p6r

    Her site is http://www.simegen.com . If you’re interested in SFR and its roots, she’s someone you ought to read. And she’s a nice as pie gal to boot.

    Hugs all, ~Linnea

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  34. Janine
    Mar 13, 2007 @ 11:40:32

    Well, having read the post I just linked, and the comparison of historical romances to SF romances, I think that some readers find it easier to imagine or believe in the past than they do in the future. The past has already happened, so it’s more real to some people. Reticules have actually existed, transporter beams have not.

    Although give the popularity of the paranormal, that explanation doesn’t seem complete. Maybe it’s that technology is still viewed as the domain of guys, and we women sometimes disempower ourselves by telling ourselves that we can’t really understand it.

    Emma, your question about female authors of fantasy is interesting. My speculation is that they don’t shy away from romances to the same degree. Fantasy has its roots in myths and fairy tales, and these often included love stories. I know that in our piece on paranormal romances, Sharon Shinn said that she thinks “fantasy romance” is an accurate term for what she writes.

    Devon, so glad you enjoyed the book! :) I agree that the fully realized world of GoC is a big part of what makes the book work.

    Bev (BB), have you read Asaro’s The Veiled Web? I thought that one was half and half, too.

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  35. Review: Games of Command, Linnea Sinclair « Racy Romance Reviews
    Oct 25, 2008 @ 09:25:37

    [...] Dear Author, Janine, B+ [...]

  36. Kathy
    Mar 20, 2009 @ 16:48:09

    I’m late to Linnea Sinclair but am TOTALLY hooked. I just finished Games of Command and it fell into the “Alnighter” category – I stayed up all night to finish it. I loved the character of Kel-Paten. His dual nature with the tension between his machine and human side; his vulnerability that he hides with the “machine” side of his nature; the role Sass plays in helping him become more integrated between human and machine. I am not a huge fan of Science Fiction – but this was fantastic and I am a fan-girl forever!

    ReplyReply

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