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Hammered by Elizabeth Bear
Review by EJ McClure
Spectra Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0553587501
Date: January 2005 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Hammered is a tough, gritty novel sure to appeal to fans of Elizabeth Moon and David Weber. Jenny Casey, retired master corporal, is scraping for a living on the mean streets of Hartford, Connecticut in a future that lurks just around the corner. Her world is populated by drug dealers, petty criminals, and the occasional cop, but this marginal existence provides exactly what she needs: a sanctuary out of sight of the government that used and discarded her. And is now looking for her so it can use her again.

Colonel Valens believes that Jenny may be the key to his research, and is willing to go to extreme lengths to recover her for his project. After years of frustration, he is desperate to find out why and how she has successfully adapted to the prosthesis that make her both more and less than human. Jenny is willing to go to equal extremes to stay one jump ahead in a contest?both physical and virtual--that she fears will prove deadly.

The loner-hero is a familiar SF trope, but women are still relatively rare in their ranks. In Jenny Casey, Bear has created an admirably Chandler-esque character, street-smart and battle-scarred, tough talking and quick on the trigger. I suspect it is no coincidence Jenny lives on Sigourney Street. She has survived everything fifty years of hard living has thrown at her, aided by her wits and the military training she received in the Canadian Special Forces. But now the body they gave her has started to degrade, and she knows time is running out.

Bear shuttles effortlessly back and forth across time to weave her disparate cast of characters together in a tightly plotted page-turner. The noir universe she creates is as hard-edged as the people who inhabit it. The dialogue and descriptions are suitably spartan, but every one of her characters has their own recognizable voice. It takes no effort at all to imagine Hammered on the big screen.

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