Review: Catch the Lightning by Catherine Asaro

Sunday, February 5, 2012
Genre: science fiction
Series: Saga of the Skolian Empire #2
Pages: 320 (mass market paperback edition)
Published: April 1997
Source: bought
Rating: 4/5

In the distant future, the Skolian empire rules one third of the human galaxy, and is the most powerful of all. For the ruling family has the power of telepathy, and through it, the ability to communicate faster than light across the interstellar space. but their most determined enemy, the traders, who thrive on human pain, need to interbreed with a Skolian to gain their powers. And now they have her.

 Catch the Lightning, one of the older novels of the Skolian Empire saga, is Catherine Asaro in her true form. Slight spoilers ahead, but only if you haven't read any of the other Skolian novels.

First off let me say I am a huge fan of this series. It's hard sci fi for non-hard sci fi readers. She makes the physics and the genetics relatively easy to understand while weaving a story that is able to touch people emotionally. Since Asaro has worked on the last three novels, she seems to have been more caught up in the musical aspect of her work, which is tied into the story as a whole but most closely with Diamond Star. Admittedly, part of why Asaro is an idol of mine is because of her multiple talents, and I think that adding music to the story of one of the Skolian family is something to be proud of. But whether because of that or because of what's happening in the latest novels, her work has not quite been mind blowing stuff like the beginning of the series.

I've saved this one for last almost last because it is chronologically the latest story in the series. But like those first novels she wrote, I really learned and interacted with the universe she has created. She revisits the physics without making it boring- I love her for that. She also explains the Rhon genetic project from the views of a woman from an alternate 1987, something which had become a bit muddied for me since I started reading the series with Primary Inversion.

But not only that, there's space combat again! This time she adds time travel too; classic space opera stuff here, ladies and gentlemen. Also, I hate to admit that the capture of a Rhon psion makes for the best anticipation, but it's true. The torture of a psion is upsetting for us readers with a high Kyle rating, but the lack of empathy present in the Traders is fascinating to see firsthand, as it were, through the eyes of the main characters.

And then we also find out where the Raylicans originated (although I imagine that the secrets of the star-faring people who brought them there and inadvertently gave them the inversion drive may be forever hidden from us.) The future of the Rhon may depend on this knowledge and I want to see it explored more in the future by the author.

This is a great addition to the saga that is an easy, quick read. Recommended. 

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