Feature book: The ES Siren series, books 1-3
The ES Siren Series, books 1–3
The overall series was excellent at showcasing sci-fi romance, the technical aspects of the sci-fi related to day-to-day activities and shouldn’t put off anyone who doesn’t like the spaceship type books. There are no ‘beam me up Scottie’ transporter moments here, and the most sci-fi type weapon is an electric whip type of arrangement (an excellently thought out idea for use where you don’t want holes in the hull as you would get with projectile weapons aka guns).
The roughly one hundred page individual tales varied according to which part of the story they were telling. Book One contained a lot of set up, but not demonstrably a first-book-only, the story was complete in and of itself. The great thing was that although different relationships were being explored in each book, the overall feel of the series was maintained in each instalment. There’s an overarching menace in the type of society Earth has spawned with such a considerable divide between the rich and the everyday people and a feel of the Wild West in the colony of Solitaire they are heading towards with its privations and survival on the edge.
Each author brings a slightly different feel to their tales and accordingly the different books will appeal to different people. They all have happily ever afters, the tone is different in each and you should read them all for the rich tapestry they provide for their canon, although if you are not in the mood for menace, space (see what I did there) them out a little between other books. After all it’s about six hundred pages you are committing to.
Chief Rita Songworth has worked her way up through the military and reports to Lieutenant Zane on the spaceship ES Siren. She’s in a dysfunctional relationship with Zane and despondent that she left her family on Earth.
Tristan is a white coverall wearing (worst of the worst) prisoner on board the Siren. He’s in for the murder of his wife and unborn baby, is a world-class painter and strangely compelling to Rita.
Lieutenant Zane is more or less the antichrist in this story (OK that description may be slightly over the top). He’s basically evil, he’s in a position of power, he feels entitled and he manipulates people through his position, using blackmail and by covertly giving them drugs. He runs illegal fights and stirs trouble among the large number of prisoners on the vessel.
Rita and Tristan’s relationship has an interesting dynamic with her being free and him a prisoner. They have brief elicit encounters, it’s not at all sweet and the tension may not appeal to everyone.
It’s the first book in a series written by three authors based on characters travelling on the colony ship ES Siren. Earth is overcrowded and heavily polluted, it’s a dystopian vision of the future with a very wide gap between the haves and have-nots. This sci-fi romance has a horror aspect (think Stephen King’s type of hopelessness), there’s a large emphasis in the story on the Zane character and his deliberate cruelty, which does overshadow the relationship between Rita and Tristan. Not for those who hold fairness and equity as first-level values; a punching bag is recommended as a reading aid for when Zane really makes you want to hit something.
Corporal Sienna Jade is a field surgeon pulling first-aid type duties looking after the prisoners because of her history with Lieutenant Zane (calling him the devil incarnate would be insulting to the Devil). She’s unhappy being on the Earth Ship (ES) Siren although she appreciates the food and relatively clean air of spaceship life. (Given that the food is unappetising gloop you get the picture of life before the military.)
Alex Tariel, former construction foreman is on board ES Siren as a prisoner. He deliberately stole water rations to get a place on the Unity mission to colonise Solitaire. He had a bit of a wild youth but settled down working construction on Earth. While unhappy with the stigma and personal restrictions of being a prisoner, he’s working towards freedom and keeping his head down, passing unnoticed until Zane forces him into the spotlight and into fighting in the Rounds (the prisoner fights) on the spaceship.
Lieutenant Zane is once again manipulating people and generally being an ass. Corporal Jade had the unpleasant experience of being his partner on Earth and now he’s making a point of making her life as miserable as he can. Alex and Sienna have a rough road to romance with Zane attempting to thwart them at every turn.
As with all the books in the series it’s a sci-fi romance, but it doesn’t have the horror angle that the first book did, so it’s a lighter read than the first one. With the baddy (Zane) established in Book One, the Sienna and Alex story takes centre stage and the characters get to flesh out their relationship a little more in this book. Zane does remain a major stumbling block but he takes up less space on the page this time around. There’s graphic sex between Alex and Sienna and it feels more relationship orientated and sweeter than that had by Rita and Tristan (in the first novel).
Doctor Lily Kwan is a skilled and multi-qualified research scientist who has a love for woven baskets and tubers (all hail the potato). She’s kick ass without being physically superior, she uses smarts to get the better of dangerous people. She does (thank goodness) have some flaws; think experimenting on herself and underestimating the bad guy. And not wanting to belabour the tuber point but watch out for the judicious use of mashed potato as an offensive weapon.
Sergeant Connor Madison, quartermaster extraordinaire, can find anything and make even a romantic picnic happen on a less-than-romantic spaceship. He’s got a moral backbone a mile wide and he’s physically imposing, in a ‘hello hotness’ way.
An interesting relationship occurs between Lily and Connor given he’s not sure if she’s involved in the manufacture of sexmeth (a horrible drug that combines lowering of inhibitions and an insatiable need to have sex) and she’s experimenting on herself with an antidote for sexmeth. Never fear happily-ever-after does occur.
Again the book is a sci-fi romance with seamless tech. The vats of green goop in the hydroponics, tablet-type computers, daily drudge like the meals being unappetising yet nutritious and the colonists gaining more space as the stores are used up, make it feel like a real place.
Given the setting, this is a more light-hearted romance than in the first and second books, which were darker and more menacing. A quick woo hoo needs to be voiced for Lily outsmarting the obnoxious Zane in this one (very satisfying in a Hollywood kind of way); the heroines in the previous books outsmarted him in less confrontational ways.
Reviewed by Gina
Review copies of these books were provided by the authors.