Edie Sha’nim is a prodigy. The best cypherteck in the galaxy, she has been trained since childhood to manipulate advanced biocyph seed technology by members of the all-powerful, interstellar Crib empire. This technology helps to terra-form inhospitable alien planets, but the empire uses it hold Fringe worlds to ransom. Every year the “biocyph retroviral automated terraformer seeds” (BRAT seeds) sustaining their ecosystems automatically fail unless the colonies pay the Crib an exorbitant amount for a renewal key.
Edie is kidnapped by mercenaries from a Fringe planet, hoping to exploit her gift to reprogram stolen BRAT seeds. To ensure her cooperation, they “leash” her to a slave bodyguard, Finn—a former member of the Saeth, a shadowy, secretive group of freedom fighters. If she cooperates, they promise her freedom from a life she hates as well as freedom from her manipulative, ambitious mentor, Natesa. But if Edie tries to escape or strays from Finn’s side, he dies. Finn and Edie have no choice but to trust each other as they fight for their freedom from both the mercenaries and the Crib.
Finn is the very embodiment of “tall, dark, and mysterious,” and we only learn about his past in small increments. Edie, sensitive but defiant, is the heart of the story, and the romance that develops between the two is understated and does not overshadow the rest of the plot.
One of the book’s strengths is the author’s intricate and detailed world-building. The author handles descriptions so skillfully that you aren’t left feeling overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity and sophistication of the universe she has created. Creasy has created a fascinating universe, full of eerie alien landscapes and intriguing scientific speculation.
Song of Scarabaeus was nominated for the 2010 Philip K. Dick Award and the 2010 Aurealis Award for “Best SF Novel.” It is a brilliant debut, from a very promising new author, with a subtle romance at its heart that can be enjoyed by romance and sci-fi readers alike. There is enough action and suspense to satisfy SF fans, and enough tension and simmering chemistry to keep romance fans happy too. And if you enjoy it, don’t miss the sequel, Children of Scarabaeus.
Check the WRL catalog for Song of Scarabaeus.