Tor, Feb 2003, 24,95, 364 pp.
The end days seem apparent for the troubled earth so Mira Corporation CEO Jake Holman and his company manager Gail Cutler decide to build a starship The Ariel to escape. They sell passage to six thousand wealthy patrons from an assortment of earthlings. The group travels through space before establishing Mira City on the planet Greentrees.
The settlers meet the Furs, who are also from off world. Subgroups of Furs behave extremely different from others with some violent and some passive, but no mixing of behavior within a subgroup. Not long afterward, an alien ship arrives containing the Vines. Though the colonists' military wing attacks the newcomers in vain, the Vine remains peaceful and seeks talks. The expatriate earthlings learn that the Vines and the Furs are at war. Soon a Fur ship attacks the Vine vessel and captures Jake, Gail, and other humans. To keep Mira City and Earth safe from a Fur assault Jake (and company) must destroy the force field that protects the Vines' homeworld.
Though not quite at the level of the Probability trilogy, CROSSFIRE is a terrific first contact tale loaded with action as the three species seem genuine and the key characters whether human, Fur, or Vine seems real. However, what makes this action packed outer space tale so strong is the competing battle of philosophies as ideas are fully discussed yet interwoven so as not to slow down the hyperspeed pace. Though the ending will disappoint some readers, Nancy Kress will once again take the genre by storm with her usual cerebral action adventure thriller.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner