THE DISAPPEARED (A RETRIEVAL ARTIST NOVEL)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Roc / 384 pages / July 2002
Instant addiction. You hear about it — maybe you even laugh it off — but you never think it could happen to you. Well, you just haven’t run into Miles Flint and the other Retrieval Artists looking for The Disappeared. I only took one innocent hit, just a single novel, and I am hopelessly hooked, impatiently waiting for the next shipment of the good stuff to enter the pipeline.
If you’ve ever enjoyed mysteries, cop novels, hard-boiled detective stories, you’re going to be a sucker for The Disappeared.
But that’s not the only group that’s going to be clamouring for copies. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s handling of human-alien interactions puts a new and very sobering face on extraterrestrial contacts that few authors have thoroughly explored. Here on Earth, we haven’t learned to live together peacefully; what is going to happen when we try to co-exist with truly alien races? Just whose laws will prevail? Different countries condemn each other’s practices as barbaric and unconscionable already, with every side believing themselves to be on the moral high ground. Imagine what laws we might encounter in a universe filled with sentient beings? Where is the high ground there?
The Disappeared brings these questions forward with wrenching and terrifying intensity, providing more than enough conflict to keep the novel moving forward at stampede pace. As powerful as the issues addressed are though, it is Rusch’s characters that keep you reading long after everyone else in the house has fallen asleep. Good, bad, imperfect beings all, they are impossible to turn away from.
Noelle DeRicci — tougher than permaplastic, more caustic than Precinct coffee, thoroughly unlikable — is honourable, breakable, and tender. Ekaterina Maakestad is a dangerous fugitive on the run responsible for numerous injuries and deaths, and she grieves for the unattractive, but gentle fiancé she had to forsake. Miles Flint wanted nothing more than to make detective in the Moon Sector Police and he’s damn good at his job, but — suffice it to say there is so much more to Miles.
No matter what side of the law Rusch’s character’s stand on, it becomes painfully apparent that none is completely across that line. One of the most intriguing things about the novel is the push and pull of trying to determine who is in the right in these situations; your brain is going to want to do it, but there simply are too many factors to weigh. And that is without bringing in the major consideration of punishment by proxy…
The Retrieval Artist novels promise to be a series, and I certainly hope so. It’s not often that a reader can be helplessly caught up in a book for all the right reasons; these rare chances to be entertained, provoked, and moved should be snapped up whenever they can be. The Disappeared, like all the best science fiction, achieves a higher purpose: to make us look at the world around us with new understanding and question the status quo.