7th Sigma

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I really enjoyed Steven Gould's Jumper books, so when I saw that he had a new one out I picked it up enthusiastically, not even minding that it was the first of a planned series*. 7th Sigma is set in the American Southwest in a zone where nanotechnolgy "bugs" consume all metal, making most modern technology impossible to use in the zone. Our young hero, Kimble Monroe, goes from street urchin to martial arts apprentice to secret agent, and gets glimpses of the secrets that the Territory might hold.

(I'm also in the middle of the Change series by S.M. Stirling, where electrical and explosive technologies just no longer work, and it was occasionally difficult to remember which set of rules applied to this world, but that's just a particular quirk of my reading schedule.)

The protagonist's name, Kimble, is a nod to the fact that the narrative arc--orphan to spy--is modeled on Kipling's Kim. I had the odd revelation just a few chapters in that one of my childhood favorites, Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy, was almost certainly modeled on Kim as well, so now I want to re-read both those books.

FuzzyCo grade: A-

* That's a whole rant I could get into. There are lots of great reasons to write a series: if you really have developed characters that people want to see in new adventures, or if you're telling a saga that really won't fit into a single book. But there are also baldly commercial reasons to write a series and especially in the young adult world the formula seems to work backwards: we need a continuing revenue stream and so how can we construct this book so that you'll have to read more. In any case, "the first book of a new series" has often been a warning sign to me.