(1) Before Dawn (Sentinel)

By Cindy Combs
Reviewed by Kathryn A on 16th June 2000 (4)
Tags: Novella

The first story of an alternative universe where Jim, Blair, and a heck of a lot of other people, are nth-generation colonists on the planet Roachia. I must admit, I found it hard to keep track of all the characters, when all we had to go by was names, with hardly any descriptions. About the only ones I kept straight were Jim, Blair, Simon, Rafe, Henri, Joel, and Jack.

As an AU TS story it was enjoyable. As a straight SF story, there were annoyingly niggly holes. Why did they call the planet Roachia when it sounds like it was named after the cockroach-like Roachians? How could Jack so casually have cigars in wartime? If the Roaches wanted to exterminate humans, why bother with work camps? Not to mention the, um, secret weapon that they used in this story.

I also hit a bit of a culture-gap: what does "having a cow" mean? And I found it rather disconcerting that folks were protesting about a "teenager" of 18 years of age being asked to go undercover, when 18 years old is the age of majority in my country, and therefore, from my point of view, the fellow was an adult.

But, on the up-side. it was nice to see a big, protective Jim (and a small protective Blair). I liked the oral history thing - and that even in a world where Sentinels are known and accepted, and they think they know all about them, extraordinary people can still break the mold and write outside the lines.

This story was nominated in the 2000 Cascade Times Awards in the "best AU story" category, and this series was nominated in the "best AU series" category. This was also nominated in the "favourite alternate universe series" category in the 2001 Cascade Times Awards.