Top positive review
She writes with a humanity that is rare in science fiction
Reviewed in the United States on October 6, 2021
When it comes to reading fiction, Science Fiction (SF) is far and away what I favor, with Fantasy second. I love alternate futures and presents, and "What if?" is a favorite topic for me. There are authors and series that I follow, because there are characters and worlds whose stories and fates I've become invested in, like Manticore in the David Weber's "Honor Harrington" series. Weber's series is military in flavor, which I also generally enjoy, even though I've never served. It's taken a lot of books to flesh out the main characters, and I've enjoyed their growth. But the background behind those characters, the universe they live in, is far more interesting than the characters themselves. Those stories are plot driven, and the physics of that universe--and the limitations it causes--are more the drivers of the story than the people in them.
Dorothy's books are very much the opposite. It's happening in a future somewhere else in the galaxy--there are planets being terraformed and jump gates to get there. There's a war on, involving an Empire, a Federation, and many unaligned. None of that matters, really, even if it's interesting. Because what this author is writing about, so very, very well, is relationships. The interactions between her characters have a sense of realness that I rarely see in this genre. Here too are military relationships, and there's a feeling of genuine comraderie between these fighting men. Even more rare is the sense of intimacy between the characters, and I don't mean in a sexual way. It's as if you're privy to private conversations between real people who are interdependent, even when they themselves don't realize it yet. Even more so between characters who don't know and so can't quite trust each other, and you get to see that develop. When there is a romantic aspect (the protagonists in each book is female), you see the kind of playful give-and-take that all happily marrieds understand. This level of intimacy is so rare in SF that it has to be trumpeted. And in military SF? I can't think of another example.
The plots in both books start as damsel-in-distress stories, but neither character is a delicate flower. They're both women who are incredibly skilled and competent in their fields, thrown into war zones for which they have no frame of reference. And their backgrounds aren't generic backstories: Michelle (in Going Ballistic) is a highly trained sub-orbital pilot, and Lizzes (in Blood, Oil, and Love) is a petrogeologist, and those highly technical knowledge bases play a crucial role in their books. Both are forced to learn, quickly, military operations and procedures that are foreign to them, in order to save their own lives and the lives of those around them. Situations like that foster intimacy and interdependence, and Dorothy absolutely nails it.
Read this book. Read this series. And keep reading Dorothy Grant. She's going places.