The Barnes & Noble Review
In Nimisha's Ship, the first novel in an engaging new series from the bestselling author of the immensely popular Dragonriders of Pern books, Anne McCaffrey once again offers her legions of fans a well-proportioned fusion of epic struggle, science fantasy, and mythical action-adventure, all layered upon a well-wrought foundation of human courage and contemptible characters.
Lady Nimisha Boynton-Rondymense, as body-heir to Lady Rezalla, is a member of the First Family of Vega III. Close-knit families, as such, are unknown in this high society, where members of royalty contract together to have children and for joint wealth and historical lineage. As daughter to the brilliant starship designer Lord Tionel, owner of the distinguished Rondymense Ship Yard, Nimisha naturally takes to the technological sciences. From an early age Nimisha excels at mechanics and eventually, with her bodyguard attendant Jeska, becomes the principal assistant to Lord Tionel as he experiments with new and more powerful vessels. When Tionel dies in a freak space accident, Nimisha takes a controlling interest in the shipyard and continues improving space vehicles to such a degree that the Vegan Navy offers its services and begins to work with her.
However, Lord Tionel's body-heir, the loutish Lord Vestrin, seeks to overrule Tionel's will in an effort to inherit the shipyard for himself. After losing the legal battle, though, Vestrin vanishes in a blur of self-destructive activity while Nimisha continues to enhance existing starship designs, her genius furthering the course of space travel. Whileexperimenting with a new ship, Nimisha discovers herself lost inside a wormhole that strands her light-years off course. After spending a year in stasis in the hope that search parties would rescue her, Nimisha eventually lands on an alien planet full of dangerous life-forms. The ship -- containing three separate AI personalities -- is her only companion until she eventually stumbles upon the survivors from another lost spacecraft. While Nimisha and her companions attempt to survive in an increasingly hostile environment, Lord Vestrin plots against Nimisha's body-heir, the young Cuiva, in an attempt to take over the Rondymense holdings at any cost.
McCaffrey is highly skilled at sustaining several intertwined subtexts at once: We are witness to a culture that is superior at high-tech space voyaging but adheres to ancient rituals, ceremonies, and customs of propriety. McCaffrey does a remarkable job of filling in all pertinent information without falling upon lengthy exposition. Her narrative style is succinct but never lacking. The reader will discover two vastly different worlds: one comprising modest decorum and formality, and another filled with all the primordial dangers of the jungle, and worse. The author always manages to fill in the landscape with luxuriant detail, convincing dangers, and suspenseful circumstances. Sociological situations underpinning science-fantasy adventure have always been McCaffrey's forte, and this series admirably continues that tradition.
While her peers spent their time hunting, drinking, and generally doing nothing, Nimisha preferred engineering-a trait she inherited from her father, Lord Tionel Rondymense-Erhardt. Lord Tionel encouraged her interest and trained her to design spaceships, and after his sudden death Nimisha inherits the Rondymense Ship Yards, much to the displeasure of Lord Tionel's body-heir, Lord Vestrin. For over a dozen years Nimisha works at perfecting a long-range cruiser (stopping to have her one body-heir, Cuiva, along the way) to sell to the navy. On her experimental test flight Nimisha is sucked into a wormhole, disappearing from known space and emerging at a point so distant that her navigation computer cannot recognize any star patterns. She becomes the twentieth human ship to emerge in this sector, and soon discovers that she is not alone and not all of the survivors are human. McCaffrey returns to the society she created in The Coelura (Tor, 1989). While this is a good adventure story about a girl who dares to be different, there is no real tension in the story because Nimisha is never really in danger. Lord Vestrin never appears, but is only discussed by other characters, so there is no real villain. The major problem with the book is that Nimisha, who has always wanted to design space ships, is willing to give it all up for love and remain on a primitive planet, four travel years distant from home, having babies and dealing with the newly-discovered aliens. There are open and frank discussions about sex. The story is left open for a sequel and sure to be in high demand wherever there are readers of science fiction. VOYA Codes: 3Q 4P J S A/YA (Readable without serious defects, Broad general YA appeal, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12 and adults).
[A] diverting, intelligent space opera with two lively and likable characters. The vicarious pleasure of watching [the main characters] outsmart the villains will leave you with a warm glow for the rest of the day.
Science Fiction Chronicle
New, independent sf from McCaffrey (Freedom's Challenge, 1998, etc.) Here, Lady Nimisha, unlike most of Acclarke City, Vega III's decadent aristocrats, enjoys tinkering with machines and improving their design. Impressed, her father, Lord Tionel, takes her into the family business, the vast Rondymense Ship Yards, and teaches her to design spaceships for the navy. And when Tionel dies in a tragic accident, Nimisha takes over-despite the objections of Tionel's ne'er-do-well son, Vestrin. Assisted by naval attaché Caleb Rustin, Nimisha designs the revolutionary, ultrafast Mark 5. She takes the ship for a shakedown cruise only to be trapped by an uncharted wormhole and deposited, more or less intact, many light-years from known space. As the wormhole opens and closes unpredictably, there's no immediate hope of rescue, so Nimisha explores a nearby habitable planet. Erehwon, then, is littered with wrecks from the wormhole's previous victims. Nimisha finds survivors: Jon, Casper, Syrona, and young Tim. Exploring further, the group also finds descendants of survivors-the small, furry Sh'im-from an alien vessel. With plentiful supplies from a wrecked freighter, they all begin to build a civilization. Meanwhile, back at Vega, Caleb protects Nimisha's daughter and heir, Cuiva, from the feeble threat posed by Vestrin and organizes a rescue mission. But even at top speed they're four years' travel away. Nimisha gives birth to Jon's twins. A navy ship and some scientists, studying the wormhole's last known location, topple in when it unexpectedly opens and arrive at Erehwon before Caleb and Cuiva do. Nimisha deals with some personnel problems and hunts some blimp-sized, gravity-defyingpredatory avians. The eventual reunion with Caleb and Cuiva will involve much backslapping, medal-giving, promotion-awarding, coming-of-age celebrating, etc. Amiable mush. Might just about satisfy McCaffrey's least critical fans. .
"AN ENTERTAINING ADVENTURE."