Jane Lindskold has written more than 20 novels, including a couple with Roger Zelazny and a few in David Weber’s Honorverse. The second book in her latest series comes out in June. I’m looking at the first book: Artemis Awakening. It’s a good start to what could be a very strong series.ArtemisAwakening

The “Artemis” of the title is a planet that hasn’t been visited from the outside for hundreds of years. Griffin Dane, an archaeologist intent on making a name for himself, crashes on the planet in the first chapter. Luckily, Adara the Huntress and her companion animal (a puma named Sand Shadow) are close enough to mount a rescue. Adara and Griffin spend the next several days headed back to what counts as civilization on Artemis, and there’s plenty of romantic tension… and then things take an unexpected and entertaining turn.

From here, the book could easily be about Griffin learning the ways of the primitive society while falling head over heels in love with Adara. But Lindskold gives this book much more. Artemis, it turns out, was a special part of the Empire before it fell. From the description of the novel:

The distant world Artemis is a pleasure planet created out of bare rock by a technologically advanced human empire that provided its richest citizens with a veritable Eden to play in. All tech was concealed and the animals (and the humans brought to live there) were bioengineered to help the guests enjoy their stay‚Ķbut there was always the possibility of danger so that visitors could brag that they had “bested” the environment.

Reminiscent of the Star Trek TOS episode Shore Leave? Perhaps! That episode is one of my favorites. And I do think this novel would appeal to readers who like Star Trek. But that’s not where I’d immediately go for comparison. Instead, though Lindskold’s prose is crystal clear, I would compare it to Jack Vance’s Dying Earth, with the “technology of the ancients” and an uncomfortable villian who has no problem forcing people to be part of his biological experiments.

Adara, her companion puma, and all the other inhabitants of Artemis are descendants of the ancient engineered effort at ultimate entertainment. The characters spend much of the rest of the book learning about the planet they inhabit, about each other, and about themselves.

It’s a series I plan to continue reading! I’m eager to find out where Lindskold heads with this.

UGeek Rating: 7/10

NOTE: Jane Lindskold is one of the Guests of Honor at this year’s CONduit Science Fiction convention, in Salt Lake City May 22-24, 2015.