In the mercantile city of Port Saint Frey, the Sisters Mederos live in a world where power is more important than law. Large and wealthy corporations skirt the edges of right and wrong, and anyone who wishes to rise must be connected both to the powerful nobility, and the powerful forces that hide in the shadows of nobility. It isn’t hard to see how that translates into the future that many great and powerful corporations are trying to build, right now. In some ways, the Sisters Mederos could be a Cyberpunk tale, if the costumes were different and the magic was technology, and the ships were burning on black market diesel instead of sails. One of the great and terrible things about SF/F is that it offers a unique way to study the corruption of political structures, because it makes strange the tribalism that causes current political moments to demand a side. When the tribe shifts into a new landscape, a fantastic landscape, the current tribes can all find a kind of truth about themselves without even realizing it. How the high fall low, and how the high push each other around over mere bits of numbers in a pile.
But the subtlety of crime is often in the society within which crimes are committed. It isn’t just that someone is doing something they really shouldn’t, it’s that crime, itself, has a society, a set of rules and expectations – honor and dishonor among thieves and co-conspirators and adversaries. Crime is automatically going to be something that reaches into the social order and pricks, like a needle. And, this is an area where Patrice Sarath excels. Her work has long been a close observer of polite society, not just in her series about Port Saint Frey, but in her authorized and official continuation of Pride and Prejudice, out from Berkeley in 2011, The Unexpected Miss Bennet, Patrice Sarath does explore the mores and rules of a unique place and time in high society, and the ways women must work from within their social boundaries. She’s also written about powerful men who abuse their power, even if that’s not necessarily a crime in their own societies, with her portal fantasies In Gordath Wood and Redgold Bridge, and The Crowgod’s Girl.
If there’s a recurring element to her work across all these books, it is probably an awareness of the different social rules of different social classes bumping into each other. It sounds simple enough, really, but this is exactly where the darkness of the human soul sets in, where there’s just enough space and opportunity in the fog between classes and groups to assert the self.
I can’t wait to see how she turns her pen to the future, and what opportunities there are, just a little farther on down the way! Support our little Kickstarter, and you can find out for yourself!
Categories: Book Reviews