"Borders" (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 12th September 2000

I really enjoyed this story. It was very satisfying! This was post-TSbyBS, and the summary says "Jim and Blair must face a painful but universal truth: what was once discovered will eventually be discovered again." The truth may set you free, but not if it kills you, destroys your life, or ruins your friendship with your best friend. Jim and Blair have a lot of things to go through before Good finally triumphs in this story; which is one reason why it was such a good read. Yes, the idea has been done before, but this author did it well. She can also write decent prose:
    As he approached the open-air, awning shaded corner, Simon noted the dozens of various ethnic, cultural and social differences within the shop's clientele. It seemed coffee was one of the few pleasures that crossed all boundaries -- a true uniting force. Maybe he should share that stunning insight with the world. It might be the start of world peace in his lifetime.
    No, that would only lead to a global shortage of the god's brew, and Simon Banks would not risk that, even for such a worthy cause.

Or the guys' banter:
    "Absolutely not. Forget it. I do not like it. I never have. I never will."
    In a singsong voice, Blair bounced ahead of Jim down the fresh vegetable aisle, bobbing and weaving as he said, "I do not like it, Sam-I-Am, I do not like green eggs and ham."
    "You try putting green eggs in this basket, Chief, and I'll break the whole dozen over your head."

But it isn't just humour; we have a fair bit of grist, misunderstanding, bad moves and cross-purposes, when Our Heroes come under the stress of media attention all over again. They talk things over, and then they don't, and then they do. The characterisation is good. The supporting characters too. The rival academic comes across as merely ambitious at first, and though it might be a little too convenient for the plot that he isn't ethical, his actions escalated slowly enough that he didn't come across as a 2D villain. I liked the other Sentinel-Guide pair; they didn't overshadow Jim and Blair, but they came across as 3D characters in their own right. Neither of them were too similar to Jim or Blair, as happens temptingly often when someone attempts to write original Sentinel/Guide characters. (Which is a reasonable trap, because we don't have many examples to base them on, just Jim, Blair, and Alex.)

Mind you, when I said that Good triumphs in the end, I didn't mean that everything was rosy. Which is another thing I liked about this story. They still have consequences and ramifications to deal with. Which means I'd really like to see a sequel.

Addendum 22/05/2002: It appears that this story has vanished from the net, possibly due to a slash version of the story being published in a zine.

"Marketable Assets" (Original)

Reviewed by on 18th May 2002 (12)

This is an original SF story that I think would appeal to Sentinel fans, not because we've got any Jim or Blair avatars, but simply because this is a story about an unlikely friendship, with lots of danger and adventure. It's a pity there isn't more, really.

Addendum (19/05/2002): I've been asked to elaborate on this review. Why would Sentinel fans like it? Well, maybe it's more likely to say that folks who liked "When The Stars Walk Backwards" or "Keeper" would like this story, though it is very short in comparison to them, just a short story, not a novel. The focus of the story is on an undercover cop, and the slave that he buys as part of his cover, working together to bring down a particular piece of underworld scum... but they have to learn to trust each other first, when each one of them has already learned the first lesson of survival: Trust no one. It just struck me as an "It's about friendship" kind of story.

Addendum (22/05/2002): It appears that there are two versions of this story on Meercat's site: the one that I reviewed above is the original, but the second one has been rewritten as a parallel universe Professionals story. Pick which one you think you'd like better.