The Unincorporated Woman
by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin
Cover Artist: Dave Seeley
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765319043
Date: 16 August 2011 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Brothers Dani and Eytan Kollin continue the saga of the space war between the Alliance and the United Human Federation of Earth Luna and Mars in the third novel of their Unincorporated saga. This echoes other such war sagas between the far reaches of the Solar System and the inner planets by others such as Asimov and Paul McAuley. The Kollins emphasize philosophical, political, and religious differences.
In the UHF, all citizens are incorporated and belong to individual corporations. They strive to gain a majority interest in themselves so they can control their future and retire in comfort. The majority of the Alliance citizens hate that system and many fled the UHF for the freedom of the asteroid belt.
The Alliance consists of the settlements in the asteroid belt and the outer planets of Jupiter and Saturn. The headquarters resides on the asteroid Ceres. Justin Cord, the unincorporated man, was revived from a sleep of three hundred years and became head of the Alliance. After his death, J.D. Black, a corporate lawyer turned Fleet admiral, becomes the defacto Alliance leader. She struggles with managing the political situation and the war against the UHF which is intent on subduing the Alliance and taking the mineral resources of the asteroids and the hydrogen resources of Jupiter and Saturn.
J.D. commands the Alliance fleet and strives to out maneuver the UHF fleet commanded by Sam Trang. Outnumbered and outgunned, she manages to inflict significant damages and keep him and his officers wondering what she will do next.
The Alliance is also home to various religious sects including an ancient Jewish sect. When Trang manages to split control of the asteroid belt, he also destroys settlements and a major religious center for the Jews. He threatens others and is intent on moving on to Ceres to end the war. A surviving leader of the Jewish sect sends all the asteroids they control fleeing to the outer reaches of the solar system.
Justin Cord died while trying to recover the frozen body of the scientist who preserved him. J.D. decides to revive the woman, an unincorporated woman like Justin. Faced with the complexity of politics and the war, J.D. ends by appointing the revived scientist Sandra O'Toole as a puppet president, leaving J.D. free to pursue Trang. However, she has underestimated O'Toole's intelligence and knack for politics.
The war, unbeknown to J.D., is being fought on two fronts, the human war and an AI war. The Alliance avatars are fond of humans while the ones of the UDF's have turned feral and seek to control all other AIs. The rapacious AI also has no fondness for humans. In societies heavily dependent on AIs, such aims pose a major threat.
Colorful personalities make an interesting story. Ethnic names also pique interest. While the Jewish sect plays a prominent role, other religions also appear. Politics and back room maneuvering livens interactions. The Kollins manage to pull off a few twists. Unfortunately, the bad guys are mostly stereotypical. Even the good ones sacrifice many to achieve victory. The novel will not please all, but demonstrates the Kollins ability to write a complex tale continuing through multiple books.
The novel provides plenty of military and political action. The Kollins use a variety of characters to tell the story. They even humanize the avatars. Millions are killed and mass destruction ensues. A final confrontation awaits J.D. and Trang and the avatars in the next novel.