Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Killswitch by Joel Shepherd

A while back, at the Friends of the Library bookstore, I picked up the first two Cassandra Kresnov novels, Breakaway and Crossover. Found them to be pretty amusing, but the third book never turned up for sale, and I just recently found it available at the lending library. It's a shame I haven't the time to go back and give a thorough "what has gone before" with those two books, but you'll just have to trust that the action in those books leads implicitly to the situation at the beginning of Killswitch. Cassandra is a GI, a synthetic person, designed to be a super soldier, killer, or spy, far stronger faster and durable than a normal human being. She's also an experimental model, given far greater intelligence than earlier models, and after fighting for a shadowy group called Dark Star for a number of years, she learned to think for herself, and desire a life for herself other than constant fighting. So, in the earlier novels, she went AWOL, and fled to the world of Tanusha, far away from the conflict between the League, which created her, and the Federation of Earth. At the beginning of this story, she is the second in command of the defense forces of Tanusha, a security advisor to its President Nieland, and has established good friendships and strong bonds with her coworkers...and co-conspirators. She even has a boyfriend, Ari, who works for Tanushan Intelligence, and who comes in handy even outside the bedroom, when she needs contacts in the shadows or information that's tricky to worm out. Cassandra gets word that the League designed her with a killswitch - a way to deactivate her on command, through her neural network, which she uses to directly access the various information networks on Tanusha, like wetware wireless access. To make it even tougher, there's a new GI in town, with the same advanced abilities as Cassandra, but with her loyalties firmly locked down, and that android has the killswitch, as well as a hidden agenda which Cassandra's friends and allies probably aren't going to like. At the same time, most inconveniently, a portion of Earth's Fifth Fleet is blockading the space stations' ports, through which all of Tanusha's commerce flows, and tensions are ratcheting up between the space marines and the transport union goons. Tanusha has been selected as the next seat of the high council, (sort of like a space U.N.), and Cassandra suspects that neither the Federation nor the League are happy with the coming change, and will probably do whatever they can to sabotage the process. Her mission, should she choose to accept it, is to find the killer android, neutralize the killswitch, figure out who has infiltrated the Tanushan government, and stop a space war. No problem. This was a pretty good series, with lots of action, much breakage and exploding.

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