Persephone Station (Review)

Persephone Station (Review)

n interesting idea for a book, a feminized version of The Magnificent Seven set in a scifi space opera. But instead of poor Japanese peasants or poor Mexican farmers, this time it’s an unknown alien culture that is hidden away in a planet where the only spaceport is surrounded by poisonous plants and dangerous animals, artificially placed by the indigenous race to contain the humans. But even as I write this, it feels awfully thin – nobody ever dropped so much as a probe elsewhere to confirm if the rest of the planet is such a hellhole? And the aliens live in underground cities supplied by the space port by lifters (and nobody wonders where they are all going)? Or the aliens, desperate, didn’t just radio the orbital base (Persephone Station itself) and confess their existence? Or, in the opening sequence, the evil corporation negotiates in bad form with the aliens and then shell their cities – they had a whole detachment with them; how could you make sure nobody would drunkenly blurt it in an off-duty bar?

Otherwise, the book is well-enough written, with interesting characters and a tried-and-true trope, the Seven Samurai gambit. However, being an old man, it did take me a ways to figure who all these characters were – it all gets spelled out some ninety pages in. But the fact that the women mercs have a dropship named Kurosawa (Seven Samurai’s director) makes it obvious what’s going on here.

I’m still not sure why they took this suicide job. In Seven, is was for rice (and honor). In Magnificent, it was pride in the face of defeat. Maybe I missed that detail too.

But here’s my chief complaint. Magnificent’s final battle was a crazed series of scenes with gunslinger heroes blowing away the sombreros. But in Seven, it was all about strategy; the Samurai leader all but invites the audience into his war meetings, presenting the lay of the land on an actual map, the strategy for us to follow. We even go to these places and see them. The village exists in our minds. But here, we’re told there are vents that must be guarded (where? Dunno.) And there is the underground city. And wind turbines, which the city needs running. But as to where these are or what the actual strategies are, I couldn’t tell you. The mercs meet the bad guys somewhere out in the woods, they fall back, then we have a spaceship battle, and then a crash, and another fall back. And then, while all this is going on, the bad guys slip in off-camera and steal what they needed. So what was the point?

I mean, if you are going to do Seven Samurai (or it’s lesser regarded cousin, Magnificent Seven) you should focus on the defense of the village and not just move the final action up to the station, where everything gets resolved and the villain doesn’t even think to set a trap (and it’s such a perfect trap-alley, even the heroes are expecting it).

So I’m sorry – sure, points for doing a Ya-ya Sisterhood military scifi. But really, if you are going to play homage to the great last-stand moments in cinema, follow through.

Yeah, I was a little disappointed.