One of the nice things about going to cons, I’ve discovered, is that you meet people. Sometimes they turn out to be really funny, nice people who also can write very well. I’m fascinated by today’s example, because he grew up with a great SFF writer for a parent. Edward Stasheff’s father, Christopher, wrote many books in the subgenre I’ve been calling Science Fantasy, where magic and science exist on equal planes. The younger Stasheff must have taken that to heart, as he incorporated it into Predatory Practices, and it works rather well.
Other than the little thread of magic running through it, Predatory Practices is a straight-up Space Opera tale. Our hero, a diminutive inflatable feline alien…. What? you aren’t used to books written from a POV other than human? Well, I think you’re in for a treat. Heth is alien, but not so alien you won’t relate. He’s faced with the greatest challenges of his young life. As the runt of a litter in a society where stature means something, and fiscal success means even more, he has to prove his worth to his desired mate. He’s also got to learn how to deal with the mystifying and treacherous humans to pull off the deal of the galaxy.
Stasheff avoids stereotyping – not all humans are bad. There are some who are friendly, courageous, and that goes for the K’nes, his feline aliens. This is not a thin world. He’s populated it with enough backstory and foreshadowing to make me want more. I’m always happy to read a book about trade, smuggling, and true love. This one gives me all that, and more. The plot is tangled like a ball of yarn after the cat’s got it, but not so much as to leave you feeling like you need scissors to get out of it. I was very pleased at the length of the story, satisfying, and then it gave me more. After a series of short and cut-off reads, this was a Big Book. I like big books…
The pacing is good, keeps you going with the reading. As a matter of fact, I’ve been having trouble finding time to read, and when I have, I’ve had trouble focusing. The highest compliment I can pay this story is that it sucked me in and held me there. I couldn’t read it in one sitting, but that was my schedule, not the book.