sually scifi takes an issue of our world and moves it forward to see how it plays out. That’s the old-school way of doing things: capital punishment, incarceration rates, the Moslem self-awareness, environmentalism, all of these and more have been moved forward to see possible results (for good or bad) of a human concept or condition.
In Enemies, Lee Hogan does just the opposite – she takes the people of our world (specifically the people of Russia and it’s surrounding states) and uses them as base populations for her world Belarus. And then she go backwards.
The royal family has just been assassinated. Anarchists are in the streets (even under them). Its pragmatic (or stubborn) populace is happy with its isolation. And around it, the Star Men of the Union (as every bit galactic do-gooders as James T. Kirk) want to establish a mission and force their own Bill of Rights on them.
See, it’s 1919 to the present day, all over again.
But wait. There’s more. Under the ground, a strange race of evil-elves, the Enemies of the title, dwell. They don’t want to talk, they are not interested in understanding; they just want to torture humans. And if that isn’t bad enough, a serial killer/evil genius from a thousand years ago has been reborn.
So it’s a busy book.
I’ll give Hogan this – I always nod in appreciation when writers go non-stereotypical with their characters, and Ms. Hogan did that here. Serina Kurakin-Scriabin is a shrouded woman, forced to wear a veil because of horrific genealogical birth defects that have mutated her face. But Serina is of stronger stuff, slowly forcing societal change from within (whether the Star Men would put an untrained woman (the niece of the Tsar) on a combat mission is dubious but interesting).
This is the second book of a five volume set that never materialized – you can tell with the characters poised and greater mysteries introduced. But sorry, no follow-up. Still, the book stands well on its own legs. Worth a read!