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Breakaway: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel by Joel Shepherd
Review by Ernest Lilley
Pyr Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 1591025400
Date: 03 April, 2007 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Crossover (Book 1) Review / Show Official Info /

In the second Cassandra Kresnov novel, Cassie, a military android from the League, a collection of outer colonies in human space has found refuge and friendship on Callay, a Federation planet with conservative ideas about artificial people. But she's proven herself by saving their president, so that buys her some acceptance, at least with the government security firm that' co-opted her. But there's more to Callay than meets the eye, even if it's cybernetically augmented, and the second book in her story will shake the security and sense of self she's managed to build.

A little background from the first book is in order.

In the century after tomorrow future of Australian author Joel Shepherd's Cassandra trilogy, there are two main players in human space, the Earth based Federation and the upstart League. Cassandra Kresnov left her life as a military cyborg in the League because, while they might have a more liberal view on high tech enhancements and life forms, that doesn't mean they actually value them, and Cassie had seen to many of her friends die meaninglessly. Her big problem was that she's not a cannon fodder cyborg, but one given the ability to grasp abstract concepts, and honor and loyalty can get in your way when you work for folks with none.

So she fled to Callay, a slightly out of the way and culturally diverse Federation world. Early on in the last book she was outed as an artificial life form, which raised the hackles on many, but when she saved their president from death she earned a provisional place in the population, and found a home in the CSA, on of the several sparring security agencies on the world. As I've said before, if you're a fan of the Anime Ghost in the Shell, you're familiar with the type of government agency CSA. Independent, driven by an insightful chief, generally willing to step on other agencies toes to get at the bad guys, and maintaining a high degree of contempt for anyone not from their firm.

Now, in the second book in this trilogy (republished here after it's original run in Australia) Callay is considering breaking away (hence the title) from the Federation and becoming an independent world. Cassie has come to the attention of both the media, which loves the population's ambivalence about her. They don't much care for androids, no matter how sexy they are, but then again, she is their android. She's also come to the attention of the secret service, and even more tight knit bunch than CSA, and two of their best and brightest team up with her to root out whatever is stirring up political unrest in the normally laid back city of Tanashu.

While Cassie may have thought she was the only free thinking version of her product line, she finds out differently when she meets a more advanced model who comes along with the League delegation making overtures to Callay. Through it all she has to decide where her loyalties lie, and who she can really trust. Trust is a two way street though, and Breakaway strains the bonds she'd built up in the first book.

The Cassndra Kresnov series is a good example of the augmented killer chick genre started by Gibson with his Molly character in Neuromancer, but despite the new wrinkles of Cassie being an artificial life form, there's really not a lot here that's new, and though it's fun, it's no longer fresh. Recycled once to a trade edition, I'd wait to see if it came out as a mass market paperback before picking it up.

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