Dan Sawyer is the most proficient author I know (personally or professionally). I’ve reviewed his Clarke Lantham series and it’s easily among my favorites of his work. He offered to send me a copy of his most recent science fiction release, so naturally I said yes.
Two X-chromosomes. One Surfboard. All Man.
Climbing Olympus Mons put him on the map, winning a gold medal in asteroid jumping got him great press, and children everywhere tune into watch every time he skydives from a space station, but Suave Rob Suarez is just getting started. Together with his stunt partner and their childhood hero, he’s gonna stage the biggest daredevil stunt the universe has ever seen:
Surf a supernova.
Or die trying.
Now for those of you who are easily confused or who don’t remember high school biology (or like me if you fall into both categories) the possession of two X chromosomes would make you a female biologically. But that’s not a typo. The protagonist of Dan’s story lives in a time that allows people to be who they want. From a young age Rob identified as a man and got most of the physical modifications to be “manlier” than any science fiction hero to date. Rob’s desire to emulate his hero Gurgle Tippler, the first man to skydive from a space station, leads him to wonder if there are no more frontiers left. When you have the brains and tech to do the nigh impossible and can have your doctor rebuild you in case you guy too far, where are the challenges?
This story is interesting to me on a couple of levels and it tackles some questions that are incredibly pertinent today. First there’s that notion that we’re running out of challenges. Like Rob discovers, that’s only true for those of us with limited imaginations. It may take time and resources that you didn’t know you had. It may also take a dash of luck and it could cost you your life if things go sour, but is it worth it? And if you find that edge, ride it for all your worth, and survive what’s next?
I’m not a risk taker by nature. The older I get though, the more I realize that there are things that I want that I won’t get risk free. So these days I take the risks, but not without doing my homework. Like Rob, I call in some expert advice and when I mess up along the way I try and make it right. The only problem with real edge seekers like Rob is, once you surf a supernova what do you do next? This book doesn’t answer that question, but maybe future books will?
Deeper than that, this story looks at identity. Ro isn’t the only character in this story that doesn’t fit into a particular mold when it comes to gender identity. Dan’s dealt with sexual politics in his books before. Usually it’s a little more subtle than it is in this one, but this was no doubt written for fun more than anything else. Still, it wasn’t an accident, or I don’t know Dan.
He’s created a character here’s that’s hyper male and the only thing he lacks is the one inherently male physical attribute. (Pssst, it’s a penis.) In spite of that “lack”, Rob managed to woo women, win bar fights, and find plenty of opportunities to stick his foot in his mouth. It’s almost as though those things aren’t dependent on the male genitalia. Hmmm.
I love the characters in this story, More than that though I love the voice it’s written in. We get this story first person and it’s hard to explain the way Rob “sounds” but it absolutely fits the story. I’m also a fan of the way that Dan works the harder sci fi elements in this story. I’m not ordinarily a fan of the harder sf since it’s usually a little dry, but this never gets near that territory.
If my ramblings haven’t clued you in I really enjoyed this. Like many of his stories, this isn’t one for the young kiddos. As I’ve outlined above, it deals with territory that’s challenging even for adults to navigate. It could be an interesting one for the teens in your life, but there are one or two scenes that are graphic in nature. My only reservation is the price. I got this for free in exchange for a review. Four dollars in exchange for something that’s barely a novelette seems a bit much. Then again it seems silly to quibble over a dollar here or there and Dan makes his living from his art. And it will take you longer to read this than it would to drink the fancy coffee that the money would buy.
I give Suave Rob’s Double-X Derring Do four and a half supernovas.