Eos, Aug 2004, 23.95, 374 pp.
EXPENDABLE Explorer Third Class Youn Sue is trained to handle the most difficult, dangerous and deadly assignments as expected of a member of the Explorer Corps. She and her Explorer peers are disposables enabling a detached mankind to rationalize their deaths without any emotional attachment, remorse or guilt for who cares that an “Ugly Screaming Stink Girl” like Youn dies.
The Pistachio space ship Captain Cohen sends Third Class Youn and her partner Second Class Tut to Zoonau on Cashling to save innocent lives from the highly intelligent Balrog. The duo are assigned to work with legendary Admiral Festina Ramos as the Balrog has just begun a chess game in which this sentient knows the opponents' plans while other beings have started their own cat and mouse deadly diversions with genocide as a possibility unless the disposable trio finds away to stop two devastating threats..
The latest expendable Explorer Corps tale is an exhilarating outer space thriller that takes off the moment Youn receives the assignment and never lets up until the final altercation. The action is faster than the speed of light, but the key characters make the story line more than just another adventure tale. Youn is a wonderful star as she is filled with psychological woes from her youth (this time you can blame the mom); Tut is a likable nut; finally the renowned admiral is real and different from the mythical legend. Even the Balrog comes across as alien. SF readers will appreciate this tale that shows one must honorably take responsibility (not just lip service) for one's actions.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner