First, this is a fast paced science fiction adventure story. Don’t forget that as I write the rest of this.
Patrician Athena Hera Sinistra returns to Earth from the asteroid colony named Eden one more time. As usual when she gets mixed up with Earth, things don’t go as planned.
Centuries past, genetically engineered supermen called “Mules”, both because they were to be the servants of mankind and because they were engineered both to all be male, engineered to be nearly impossible to clone, and engineered to be sterile a triple-whammy to ensure they don’t reproduce.
Unfortunately, the first falls rapidly by the wayside. The “Mules” seize power and become the “Biolords”. But their numbers are small and when the unmodified masses rise in rebellion they are soon overthrown, the survivors fleeing the Earth in a starship of their own construction named the “Je Revien” (“I Return”).
However, unbeknownst to most of humanity a few are left behind. They hide their nature and once again seize power as an elite nobility called “The Good Men.”
That would have been only a temporary issue except the Good Men soon find ways to clone themselves. They raise “heirs” that are clones of themselves only when the decide it is appropriate for a Good Man to die and his heir to take over, the Good Man, in secret medical facilities the Good Man has his brain removed and transplanted into the body of his cloned “heir.”
Thus they have continued for several centuries, raising “children” only to kill them and take their bodies while everyone, including their new heirs, think they have been passing rule from father to son.
But the need to maintain secrecy meant their numbers never grew. Any time a Good Man died–whether through accident, conflict, or assassination–without transplanting his brain into a clone, their numbers dwindled.
Because of this, one thing they continued to desire was to break the other check that their creators had put on them: they wanted females of their own kind with whom they could create actual children. And so they continued genetic experiments to create a female “Good Man” with whom they would be fertile.
The final result was Athena, a “clone” of the Good Man Sinistra, but with a doubled X Chromosome and enough other changes to permit her to be fertile with other Good Men. She, however, in the first volume of the Darkship series, Darkship Thieves, escaped before Sinistra could have his brain transplanted into her body.
The experiment worked. When Athena escaped she was captured or rescued (depending on ones point of view) by one of the mythical or infamous, depending on what one believed, Darkship Thieves, Christopher “Kit” Bartolomeu Klaavil. In time they became a couple and, yes, the experiment had worked and Athena was fertile.
Which brings us to the latest volume, Darkship Revenge.
When Kit wants to return to near Earth space to collect the Power Pods on which both the Earth and the asteroid home of Eden rely for energy, Athena agrees, not having yet told Kit that she was pregnant. It’s a several months journey from Eden to Earth and, before they can reach the trees only before they reach their destination they are attacked by an unknown ship. And, as luck would have it, Athena goes into labor during the attack. The battle is brief, but inconclusive. Athena and Kit’s ship basically just enduring the attack until the attacker gives up. Kit, leaving Athena in her bed after having given birth, goes out to make repairs.
And when Kit does not return from making repairs she has to struggle out of her birthing bed, take care of her newborn infant, and attempt to find out what happened to her husband. She finds a cryptic message left by him: Kidnapped. Earth.
And so she’s headed back to the one place she least wants to go.
The story is in many ways about what it means to be a parent, specifically a mother. Not just Athena, but others in the story are put into positions to act as parents to others. In addition to her own child Athena finds she not only has responsibility for her newborn daughter, but is put into the position of acting as a parent to a “relative” she never knew she had. She has to rise above her own upbringing which had taught her little compassion for others, a trait that only changed through her association, and love, with Kit.
All of this is wrapped up into a fast paced adventure story that is hard to put down.