I had been thinking just for her portrayal of women. Which I dearly love. One of the many reasons I tend not to like scifi is because I hate to think that in thousands of years things still haven’t gotten any better vis-a-vis how women are treated–how they act, and are expected to act. As mincing, sexy little attaches to their burly, decisive male counterparts. And it’s true that I’ve read the Vatta’s War series and loved it, for its lack of exposition as much as anything else–no long torrid history of space travel from the very beginnigs back on Old Earth; no boring scientific treatise on how holograms and lasers and warp drives work–they just are, and in that way are more believable than if you wrote a whole novel-length appendix detailing their function.
And it’s true that I delighted in her endlessly (though not demandingly) slashable juxtaposition of Cecelia and Heris Serrano, the debunking of their prejudice about each other’s class and background, the slow realization of otherwise hidden capabilities each had formerly dismissed in the other. But to a certain extent, I expected that. I expected the captain’s practicality and dependableness to show itself, because I saw how women of action were treated in Vatta’s War and would have accepted no less. I expected, too, the older Cecelia not to be banished to the realm of irrelevance that present society currently condemns women past the age of reproduction to languish in until their unremarkable deaths.
But what I hadn’t counted on was the sudden, imperative and deliciously believable transformation of the bubble-headed arm candies–one of whose names is even Bubbles, for crying out loud!–into competent, determined women brandishing night-vision goggles, rifles and a desperate conviction that they can survive a given situation. It would have seemed trite, maybe, if she hadn’t stuck the aforementioned Bubbles’ childhood memories in there too, clashing as they do with the present location of their peril. It’s expertly done–her finding a cache of hidden treasures buried by her childhood self as adults with guns hunt them down with every intent of killing them; her digging up, so to speak, the resourcefulness she’d buried when she grew her hair out and fluffed it up the way she learned the boys liked. Shedding years and fripperies, to return to a present-day and too-real adventure the likes of which she play-acted time and time again as a child on the very same island. Like anything emotional in Moon’s books, it’s brief, impactful–a sudden flash and then gone. So good. Maybe we can’t all summon up a Heris Serrano inside us at a moment’s notice, but it doesn’t take too much digging to find a Raffale or a Bubbles. I like that she didn’t leave the less heroic of us out.