Up Jim River
by Michael Flynn
Edited by David G. Hartwell
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765322845
Date: 13 April 2010 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The United League of the Periphery's Kennel sends super Hound Bridget ban to retrieve an artifact on the remote frontier planet Dangchao Waypoint before their galactic enemy the Confederate of Central Worlds obtains it. On the edge of the Wilds, the relic is allegedly able to keep the League safe from the Confederacy. However, when their operative vanishes without a trace, the Kennel does a perfunctory search before calling it off as all stories begin and end with Jehovah; so the assumption is agent Bridget ban is with Jehovah.
However, not everyone is willing to accept that experienced field operative Bridget ban died on the deadly river that meanders through hostile land on Dangchao Waypoint. Especially outraged with the quick denouement is the missing agent's daughter, Mearana. She knows how skilled at surviving her mom is and decides to mount a rescue, but needs help. She turns to one of her mom's former lovers, Donovan. He is certifiably insane so Mearana believes he might agree to do the job with her at his side. On the other hand, she knows he is certifiably insane so could actually agree and leave both of them dead as his mind has been divided into seven distinct personalities ever since the Those of Name Confederacy leadership played with his brain. On Dangchao Waypoint they begin tracing Bridget ban's steps along the river of death.
The return to the far future Flynn universe (see The January Dancer) is an engaging science fiction thriller that focuses on a search and rescue mission in an isolated lethal area of the human dominated galaxy. The use of references and purposely antiquated vernacular dating back to twentieth and twenty-first century earth is cleverly designed as it showcases our modern age's presumption of knowledge and understanding of previous civilizations; similar to the cult classic Fillard Millmore, especially the ending. Additionally Michael Flynn creeps closer to the Wilds where apparently mankind's ancient history can be found if rumors hold true.
The S&R quest Up Jim River on planet Dangchao Waypoint is a fun but more traditional adventure than the previous story line of The January Dancer; in fact this plot feels more like a series of episodes on a TV show as each bend scene leads to a new peril for the lead pair to contend with. Of the heroic duo, Donovan is the more fascinating one as his partner and readers are not sure who will show up amongst his magnificent seven personalities when their lives are in peril; the wrong personality could prove lethal. Mearana is a more traditional throwback character who never loses sight of her goal: rescue her mother. Intriguingly, the difference in outlook between the two stars surfaces best via their relative feelings towards Hound Bridget as her doting daughter and her mentally shattered former lover see her radically different. Much less complicated than the first novel, Up Jim River is an enjoyable mostly planet side adventure thriller on an orb on the edge of the Wilds of deep space.