This second volume in Sasaki’s (Welcome to the Madhouse, 2015) Grace Lord series finds the surgeon confronting a strange new intelligence and an old nemesis.
Following the defeat of a deadly virus in the first installment, Grace continues to serve on the medical space station Nelson Mandela, attending to soldiers of the Union of Solar Systems. As a normal routine returns to the lives of Dr. Hiro Al-Fadi (Grace’s boss) and Bud (a singularly capable and handsome android devoted to her), the station receives a visit from famous vid star and director Jude Luis Stefansson. When Grace meets Jude, she learns that he isn’t heroically gorgeous like his fictional creation, Jazz Hazard, but rather a regular, middle-aged man. Jude is at the station because he’s heard of a process by which the mind can be transferred to a robust, new android body. The staff informs him that the experimental technology is not for private use, for any price. Elsewhere, a ghostly presence stalks the station’s corridors, undetectable by the artificial intelligence running the Nelson Mandela. When a murder occurs outside the armory, thoughts turn to the vile Dr. Jeffrey Nestor, who’s sworn revenge on Grace and Bud for their roles in thwarting him during the viral outbreak. For this sci-fi sequel, Sasaki returns with all the winning elements that fans of Star Trek and Isaac Asimov should love, including a large, snarky cast; a robot conflicted by his burgeoning humanity; and animal-adapted soldiers (treated by the station’s dedicated doctors). Sasaki once more explores the ethics of sentient robots and expanded human consciousness in lines like “Does your android, who feels, thinks, remembers just like you, have any rights at all?” The author also treats lovers of sci-fi horror to a brief splatterfest reminiscent of the film Alien but ultimately introduces a new intelligence to the cast. Throughout, Sasaki displays a propulsive inventiveness as she weaves grand ideas with humor and soul.
Both a paean to the sci-fi genre and a captivating return to a space station in a complex universe.