Justice 4.1 I was curious, but just didn't see how I'd be able to fit it into my review schedule. Fortunately, he was primarily interested in driving some press in anticipation of Loncon 3, which meant Jim Webster and I had the better part of 5 months to get to know one another.
I'm glad I took the bait and let it taunt me from the review shelves for so long, because I quite enjoyed this. It worked well as both an interstellar sci-fi thriller and as a gritty crime thriller. The central conflict/mystery is actually quite strong, and the setting lends it multiple layers that are enjoyably revealed. As for those layers, I liked the universe that Webster introduces here, its geography, its politics, its history, and its philosophies. The technology is a bit simpler than one might expect, but it does lend the action an immediacy to which we can relate.
There are some big set pieces here and some glimpses of true space opera, but it's those simpler scenes that I found most entertaining. For instance, there's a scene early on where a booby-trapped satellite is carefully defused during a daring spacewalk, and it had as much drama to it as some of the larger battles that mark the book's climax. I found the characters just about perfect for the storyline, all-too-human, questionable in their motives, and sincere in their pursuit of a cause. I was surprised by how some of the friendships/relationships developed, but in a good way. As for the writing, it was crisp and clear, with the words flowing effortlessly off the page - a comfortable read, as well as an exciting one.
The book does end rather abruptly, with some questions left unexplored, but being that Justice 4.1 is The Tsarina Sector Book 1, we can only hope there's more to come.
Paperback, 154 pages
Published March 1st 2014 by Safkhet Fantasy