The tag line for Ciel Pierlot’s space opera debut Bluebird really says it all: Lesbian gunslingers fight spies in space. From its opening chase scene in a disreputable space station to its big set piece finale in one of the galactic seats of secret power, Bluebird delivers on its promise. Its main character Rig is a lesbian who has two (named) guns and she is on a seemingly impossible quest while being pursued across the universe by more than one secret police organisation.
When Bluebird opens Rig, formerly Traxi, is on the run from the Pyrite collective, having stolen the plans for a superweapon that she designed. Pyrite is one of the three factions that not only divide up the galaxy but are constantly fighting for ascendancy over the others. Anyone not aligned with a faction is pushed to the fringes and it is these people that Rig tries to help, when she is not watching her back. Following a close call she picks up a passenger called Ginka who is handy in a fight and has secrets of her own, and who Rig nicknames Cactus. Rig is on a mission which enables her to visit her lover June who is a member of the Ascetic faction. But before long she is in the crosshairs again, learning that multiple groups are after the plans and that Pyrite forces are holding her twin sister hostage in return for them. Soon Rig has a new mission – keep the plans out of enemy hands while finding the secret Pyrite base, breaking in and rescuing her sister. Nothing, of course, goes according to that plan. There is another story that plays out along the way that provides some useful backstory about one of the factions and leads to a revelation that every reader will see coming.
While wearing its space opera influences on its sleeve, Pierlot still manages to throw in some new wrinkles with her tripartite faction system. And she also just has a lot of fun with the genre and its conventions. This is a straight out adventure story with cliffhangers, close scrapes moustache twirling villains, heel turns, a rag tag bunch of helpers who later have to rally together, and lots of chases and fights. And while there is nothing startlingly new about those mechanics Pierlot still delivers a fun read with a narrative that zips along and action that is handled with great assurance.