Genre: Science Fiction – Space Opera
Series: Dread Empire’s Fall
Publisher: Tor.com (October 4, 2016)
Author Information: Website
Length: 131 pages
My Rating: 4 stars
First off, I have to just mention how amazing these Tor.com novellas are. Obviously, some I have enjoyed more than others, but every one of those I have had the pleasure to read have been excellent introductions to the authors, and I, for one, am so glad these novellas are available for those of us who have limited reading time. Hopefully, the people at Tor.com will keep them coming.
Okay, with that gushing out of the way, I have to admit never having experienced any of the Dread Empire’s Fall novels or any other work penned by Walter Jon Williams. That meant I went into this read of the returning character of Caroline Sula with no preconceived notions one way or another. But after finishing it, I have to say that Impersonations was among the best novellas I have read; Walter Jon Williams crafting an amazing narrative with an intriguing plot, which is detailed, engaging, and intriguing, while also spending time molding mesmerizing characters, who are complex and unique. All in all, this was a sci-fi space opera tale which succeeded in every way.
The story revolves around war hero, Caroline Sula, who finds herself sent to a dead end military post on a backwater world called Earth. Usually, this assignment is reserved for those who have done something very embarrassing, not the typical reward a war hero expects after saving the Shaa civilization from destruction by the Naxid.
But Sula takes it all in stride. She knows she has been sent to Earth for one reason: Her success upset some important people, and so they have gotten her out of the way to hide their failures. Her natural desire to do her best in any situation outweighing any slight she feels by her banishment. (The fact that Sula’s ancestors originated on Earth and that she herself is passionate about ancient Terran History does help ease her pain somewhat.) Quickly, though, she finds her active governance causing her to butt heads with a powerful company engaged in some mysterious and quasi-illegal activities. This conflict turning ugly rapidly.
If that isn’t enough, the story adds yet another distinct flavor: Sula being revealed as a very paranoid individual, who is desperately afraid a secret from her past will be uncovered. This information so devastating that it would ruin her whole life, causing even her heroics in the war to cease to matter. And when an old friend from school wants to reconnect to Sula, her paranoia increases exponentially — especially since another Caroline Sula has appeared on Earth making backroom deals and promising favors in return for credits.
Short but complex, Impersonations is a suspenseful story full of political machinations, personal drama, and loads of intrigue. Nope, it isn’t filled with action scenes, but the personal journey of Caroline Sula quickly draws you into this world, wins you over to her side, and makes you eager to follow along behind her, as she attempts to make her way through a proverbial minefield. The whole narrative passing by so quickly yet effortlessly that you wish there was more to read. And I suppose there is — at least for me anyway — since I can now add Walter Jon Williams’ Dread Empire’s Fall series to my ever growing to-be-read list.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.