Posted by : atcampbell | On : September 6, 2005

Hammered by Elizabeth Bear

Eight people attended this book discussion. Six people started the book with five finishing it. This was the author’s first book.

Hammered in this case is the name of a lethal street drug. Although the novel starts at the urban street level it soon leads out to the world and beyond. The obvious connection with Elizabeth Moon’s “kick-ass women in military SF” books was made and we felt the author was up to the challenge and handled the hard-boiled aspects quite well.

We felt the writing showed experience but still suffered from first novel-itis. A little surgery to remove excess prose was suggested but there were sections in which the writing was quite clever. Some readers disliked the constant switch of voices through the book and for some, a character based on physicist Richard Feynman was more interesting than the main character, a woman retired from Canadian special forces with a cybernetic arm. One person described the heroine as “her best side was her tough side.”

Small spoiler: the book ends with a cliffhanger. Reportedly the 2nd book in the series does as well. Only one reader was ok with this; everyone else felt cheated. We discussed whether the cliffhanger was the author’s idea or the publisher’s.

Hurricane Katrina dominated the discussion for the evening. One RG member, a Red Cross volunteer asked for book donations to give to people waiting in the long lines. In the next few days several boxes of books went downtown with her and which were reportedly snatched up in minutes.

— Judy Strange