Imagine a space opera stripped back to its barest essentials and you have the debut Killing Gravity from Australian author Corey J White. Everything is here – kick ass main character, possibly loveable side characters, a moustache twirling villain, space battles, future tech, a mystery to be solved, strange new planets – but in a condensed almost novella form that has the action zipping past. Given this is the first in a potential series, this is possibly more space overture than space opera.
When the book opens we find Mariam Xi floating in her damaged ship with her strange cat-like familiar Seven, awaiting rescue. She has dealt with a bounty hunter but other, far greater forces are after her. She is rescued by a gang of misfits who agree to help her out and take her to the nearest space station. It is not long before the forces of MEPHISTO have caught up with her and all hell breaks loose, spinning her off on another course with another mystery to solve.
Mariam is a ‘voidwitch’. She has violently intense telekinetic powers and is being hunted by her corporate/military creators. Think Wolverine or even Jason Bourne for archetypes of this type of plot. She is an interesting character but this format has her constantly in action. There is little time or space to really get behind her eyes. And this is more so for the other fairly stock characters which include the friendly augmented hacker, the ex-soldier, the helpful ship AI, and of course the evil corporate bad guy.
Killing Gravity does not bring much new to the table in terms of setting or plot but it is fun. The problem, if anything, is that it is too short. At times it feels like the plot summary of a longer book. More Voidwitch books are promised, perhaps through these White can take a breath and deepen Mariam’s inner and outer worlds.
This review first appeared in Aurealis #102, Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine, www.aurealis.com.au