(1) GDP series (Sentinel)

By Susan Foster
Reviewed by Kathryn A on 3rd January 2000 (1)

A parallel universe series set in a future America where the Sentinel phenomenon is well-known and Guides are treated like slaves. The stories are, so far Sentinel 101, Sentinel Primer, Living With The Past, Outside Looking In, Happy Americas Day, Forget Me Not, Sentinel Sanctuary and Sentinel Conference.

This is one for the h/c fans, definitely. So why did I keep reading? Particularly when there were times when I wanted to throw it down in disgust at what those sick bastards (who deserved to be struck by lightening) were doing. (And a feeling of horror, wondering how any freedom-loving people could have allowed such oppression to happen.) Well, it had a plot. And I admit I like psi things like empathic bonds.

Though the characters of Jim and Blair here are Jim-like and Blair-like, they are only partly the guys we know. This is because (a) Jim is a Dark Sentinel (a product of the author's own take on the Sentinel mythos, which has some aspects that I really Do Not care for - particularly the dominance/submission stuff, and the split-personality - geeze, I know that Sentinels are primitive, but they aren't animals, for goodness sake!) and (b) Blair is an empath, with consequent vulnerabilities.

This universe for some reason, reminds me of the Sime~Gen universe of Jacqueline Litchtenberg, with Sentinels as Channel-Simes, and Guides as Companion-Gens - with the same non-person treatment that Gens got in Sime territories. There's even an offhand reference to a religious sect which feels a bit like the Church of the Purity. However, the Sime~Gen universe is much better.

This author has a weakness of style - she has a tendency to repeat herself - phrases, descriptions - for example, saying that Jim only expressed two emotions, happiness and anger. Perhaps if I hadn't read them all one after another, I wouldn't have noticed. Or perhaps not.

So why did I keep reading? Egged on by hope that there will be a revolution? Not in this lifetime, though. (Another thing that reminds me of Sime~Gen). Though, actually, one gets the impression from the last story that the author is going to ignore the difficulties of the universe she's set up, and make things improve faster than is realistically possible. I've got mixed feelings about that. Anyway, maybe I'm just a sucker for empathic bonds. Or I had a bout of temporary insanity.

But if you're a h/c fanatic, you'll probably love it.

Addendum: this series won the 2000 Cascade Times Awards in the "Alternative Universe series" category.

(2) Rainier University (Sentinel)

By Susan Foster
Reviewed by Kathryn A on 3rd October 2000
Tags: Novel

Rainier University is the sequel to All Things Come Around which is the sequel to Sentinel Conference. Yes, I admit it. I've kept on reading them. Even though I still don't like the Dark Sentinel and Dark Guide concepts. Even though I'm not a real h/c fan. But there's something about it... the universe set up here, with great courage in the face of cruel oppression, the way that Blair just keeps on going, the way that Jim and Blair support each other (and the psi stuff!), the way that true friends come out of the woodwork, the way that the characters learn things... (And her writing style has improved too, since the opening stories in this series.) The scene in this where Blair tells his students what the GDP did to him is compelling. This is a strong, passionate Blair, who won't be cowed. While at the same time, a caring, sensitive, intelligent person. Jim's cool too, his caring able to bring out the strength and courage in Blair which might otherwise have been beaten to death...