Fault Tolerance (Chilling Effect, #3)

By Valerie Valdes

Rating: 4 stars

I had a huge amount of fun reading this third (and final?) book of the adventures of Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra. In this one, beacons appear all over the galaxy, next to travel gates, all broadcasting the same message – surrender or be exterminated! Somehow, it’s up to Eva and her crew to find the superweapon that will be all that stands between civilisation as we know it and annihilation!

Despite the fact that the stakes were nominally really high in this book (the destruction of the Earth!), I don’t think I ever felt like Eva and her crew were ever in real peril throughout this book, or that they would fail to win, but that never mattered to me. It was all about how they solved the puzzle and made it to the next step. They’re all likeable characters, and the crew have gained a bit of depth over the books. Leroy (plus girlfriend Momoko) comes back for this one, after being mostly shelved for the last one, but he doesn’t get much to do, and there’s still no details on his past, which is a shame. But there’s so much going on, that I only realised this well after I finished the actual book.

The Transformers giant, shapeshifting robots from the climax of the previous book make a return here, and we learn more about them and the neverending war between the two factions, and we get to see our gang face off against them in giant mechs, which is just as cool as it sounds. Also, the mechs’ “final form” completely cracked me up.

As with the other books, there was a liberal sprinkling of Spanish throughout the book, which I mostly ignored – I tended to assume that it was inventive swearing or other stuff that wasn’t vital the the plot. There were a handful of times I was moved to load Google Translate, but I don’t think it was hugely important.

I’ve very much enjoyed spending time with this series, which I first discovered when the first one was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, which I thought was unusual, since the Clarke usually goes for more literary works, so an old-fashioned space opera on the shortlist made me sit up and take notice. I’m very glad that I did as the whole series has been fun, and I feel that Valdes has grown as an author as the series has progressed. Recommended to any fan of space opera, giant robots and/or cats.

Book details

ISBN: 9780063085893
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Year of publication: 2022

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