stealinglightgarygibson48624_fSo I decided to start the year off with a proper sci-fi read by an author new to me but highly regarded by the Book God. Gary Gibson lives and writes in Glasgow, and the Scottish connection is always of interest to me as we seem to produce some fine writers in the genre (Iain M Banks to name but one)

I like most varieties of sci-fi but will admit to a huge soft spot for those with universe-spanning plots, ambiguous alien races, spaceships, explosions and lots of scientific exposition for me to get my teeth into; Stealing Light meets all of those criteria. And with a really good female protagonist to boot.

Dakota Merrick is a pilot and a machine-head – a person with implants (known as her Ghost) which allow her to perform well above normal human capacity. She is on the run having participated in and witnessed some terrible events, and signs up as the pilot on a cargo ship for what seems to be a straightforward job – taking an expedition to survey a potential mining operation. But of course all is not what it seems. What is the expedition really looking for?

I really, really enjoyed this novel; Dakota is a flawed and damaged heroine and I came to like her very much. The mysterious alien race which seems to be behind most of what happens to her, The Shoal, are a race of sentient fish and the only species with faster than light travel, and although the whole idea of them seems a bit weird at first, I certainly got used to them quite early on. It is quite a violent book, but I didn’t find the level of violence excessive given the dynamics of the plot (and I must admit this isn’t something that normally puts me off).

All I can say is that this is so well done it kept me up to the wee small hours over two nights to finish it, and  represents a really good start to my 2009 reading.