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Primary Inversion: A Novel in the Saga of the Skolian Empire Paperback – May 15 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (May 15 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765336065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765336064
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 562 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #725,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Set in the distant future, Asaro's debut novel pits Sauscony Valdoria (Soz) and her crew of Jagernauts-bioengineered fighting empaths-against the Trader Empire. Traders are a race that derive pleasure from the amplified pain and anguish of empaths-especially Jagernauts, as Soz knows from personal experience. Soz is also a likely heir to the powerful Skolian Empire, rival of the Traders. On a neutral planet, she meets the Trader heir and discovers he has the unusual psi abilities her race possesses. The two link mentally and fall in love. But will Soz be forced to kill her lover to protect her empire? Though Asaro, a physicist, provides more than enough esoteric detail on faster-than-light inversion drives, cybernetic enhancements and computer networks, she manages to anchor her story with thoughtful, engaging characters and an intriguing vision of the future-and she leaves the door open for a sequel.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In a distant future where three empires battle for control of the galaxy, Sauscony Valdoria, the heir apparent of the Skolian Empire, finds herself inexplicably attracted to Jaibriol Qox, the son of the Emperor of Tarnth and the symbol of everything Sauscony has been taught to despise. Asaro's sf debut features strong male and female protagonists and a well-realized far-future world. Blending hard science with a familiar tale of star-crossed lovers, this novel deserves a wide readership.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Given the number of plot summaries already here I'll skip that for this review and go right to the analysis.
Catherine Asaro's writing abilities are either the result of a brilliant writer or a dedicated editor. Whatever the reason, the book is an enjoyable read. At no point does the author get bogged down on the science, and that only helps with the flow of the story. It's a little surprising that a scientist can present these ideas without making it come off like a lecture.
The story is where it all breaks down. Granted, making a judgement on the plot is a very personal thing, and people may not agree with this assessment, but the number of "good" reviews this book has gotten has prompted me to present an alternate view.
The story is broken into three sections. The first is a contrived meeting between the main characters. Given the number of available locations, the rarity of a Rhon and the precautions necessary to keep Jaibrol under control there is no way this meeting, the foundation of the story, could happen. It's ridiculous.
Part two is a psychological diversion that creates some interesting character development but little plot development. In a longer story this would be appropriate, but it's too long for this book.
Part three is just as convoluted as part one. Again Soz and Jaibrol come together in a ridiculous fashion. This, of course, allows them to escape together and the story ends.
With the story seemingly based upon the struggles of Soz and Jaibrol to find happiness, the absurd character meetings and the wasted second part make the overall story simply a mess.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
PRIMARY INVERSION is apparently the first scifi novel by Asaro. For a first try, it is pretty good, despite some shortcomings. She clearly is well-grounded in science, and the hard scifi aspect of her writing is intriguing and well thought out. The plot of the story held my interest (though I wouldn't quite describe it as a page-turner)and the main characters have enough depth to make you care what happens to them. On the other hand, Asaro's political set-up is, at best, fuzzy. The Skolian dynasty is "decrepit" and there is some sort or elected body, but once you get into the story Primary Valdoria's half-brother seems to rule in a very absolute sense. Further, way too much of this story revolves around special mental powers. The advanced inter-personal links that might flow from nanotechnology and computer implants aren't enough. There have to be special psychic powers as well, and these powers constitute the main difference between the rival Skolian and Trader empires. The special powers should have been left out, in my opinion. The sadism of the Trader ruling class could easily have had other sources. The "Rhon" versus "Aristo" business was, in its genetic origins, obscure and confusing. Finally, most of the action (which is well written, by the way) takes place in the first part of the book. More action in the latter part of the story would have been a plus.
Although PRIMARY INVERSION has its weaknesses, it was engaging enough to hold my interst throughout. For a first effort, it was promising. I will probably be reading more of Ms. Asaro's books. I think most scifi fans will find this an entertaining read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Primary Inversion first appeared in hard cover in 1994 and was one of the strongest first SF novels ever, a romantic adventure with a healthy dose of super science. Not an unexpected gem, if one considers the author: Catherine Asaro holds a Ph.D. from Harvard in Mathematical Chemistry, Masters in Physics, edited her own SF/Science magazine, Mindsparks and had a previous Ruby Dynasty story in Analog, April 1994. Primary Inversion introduces us to our universe in the 2200's, but from the point of view of the genetically advanced humans that we discover seeded through the galaxy when we Earthlings finally make the leap to space. The Allied Worlds (Earth) holds one corner of the power triangle, but the struggle Sauscony (Soz) Skolia lives is between the Skolian Imperialate and the Eubian Traders (evil incarnate). She is the ideal of a perfect soldier. Jaggernaut physical training, a bio-web of weapons embedded in her body and a psi connection to the Skolian web that controls instantaneous communication in the universe make her nearly indestructible, but the fact that she's an empath and a telepath make her vulnerable in a way we rarely see in a killing machine. Throw in drop-dead-gorgeous and lonely as hell (no possibility of a Rhon mate, a man who can link minds with her, in the entire universe) and you see the formula for a novel filled with nova bursts of energy. Although this novel is meant to stand alone, it is actually the first half of a book. What is part two? The Radiant Seas (Tor 1999).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Primary Inversion is a heady mix of the worst of romance and the best of hardcore sf. The sadistic Traders and psionically-enchanced Skolians are fighting a continuous war. The two heirs of enemy houses(ahem, Romeo and Juliet?) fall instantly in love and cause a great ruckus. After a quick Sunday morning run-through, that is all I got from the book.
I'll probably be blasted for not giving this book stellar ratings, but hey I'm trying to be helpful by critiquing good AND bad points. I was interested in Asaro's writing because of her background in physics and was hungry for new female science fiction writers. Unfortunately, the plot reeks of immaturity. Grossly adolescent, Sauscony, the older but so sexy heroine, reads like a female version of James T. Kirk whose "heartbender" (umm, shrink) asserts that she is incapable of being with an equal. Bagging little boys is fine, but even that was boring! The galaxy seems to be chock full of strapping Jagernauts, quivering barmaids, and gorgeous little college boys, and a line of Emperors surnamed "Qox". Oh baby, whose Qox is it.. Ur Qox baby! And for "puggings sake", do adults not swear like adults? This is like the Bold and the Beautiful in Space.
There are a few positive points that, with more time and training would have made this book digestable. The underlying technology is refreshingly real and captivating, the ftl drives and antimatter weapons for example. Empathic fighters have cybernetic implants that can block their victims dying screams. The notion of love at first sight between the two heirs would seem silly if not for the fact that they had engineered "Rhon" genes that create pheremones so potent, they rack their potential mates with primal lust (like genetic soulmates).
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