Posted in Hellar Reviews
by A.E. Hellar
I have been listening to the audio book Quantum Rose by Catherine Asaro over the last couple of weeks and I learned that the novel was first published in its entirety by Tor Books in 2000. In 2002, it won the Nebula Award for the Best Novel. Quantum Rose is the science fiction retelling of Beauty and the Beast which isn’t one of my favorite tales but I did like the Disney movie version.
The story centers on Kamoj Argali, a young 19 year old woman who is a governor of a poor province. For the last ten years, she had been betrothed to a brutal and sadistic ruler of the wealthy neighboring province, Jax Ironbridge–that is, until Havyrl Lionstar, a prince of the Ruby Dynasty, comes along. Through a series of miscommunications, Havryl Lionstar ends up married to Kamoj.
Quantum Rose is a wonderful example of the blending of science fiction and romance. However, the characters and their situations would not have been possible without the science fiction side of the story. I chose Quantum Rose because it had both science fiction and romance elements. The fact that it won one of the most prestigious awards in science fiction only highlighted to me that this story is the kind that I should also aim to create. I was especially worried that the romance aspect would somehow not be “right” or would be different; however, this was not the case. Asaro explores the connection between Kamoj, Jax, and Havryl with universal concepts that have little to do with science and everything to do with human relationships.
Unfortunately, there came a point in the story when I felt that it should be ending—but my iPod was saying the opposite. It was at this point that I searched Quantum Rose online and found out that the story has two parts. To be honest, if I had known before I started this story that it had two parts I don’t think I would have picked it. The first half of the story focuses on the romance and relationship between Kamoj, Jax, and Havryl. After Kamoj and Havryl fall in love, Ironbridge comes into the story and tries to break them apart— but the lovers over come this problem and the first part ends. At this point I was ready to be through with the story. After all, once the main characters get together what more romance can there be (yes I know, but still)?
Now that I am at the beginning of a new part, it is very hard to continue—but I will try.
I like Lionstar. I can even stomach Ironbridge. But Kamoj’s character drove me up the wall. At one point, she pleads with Havyrl to use sex as a way of dealing with his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My inner feminist reared up and pushed stop. It took me several days to push play again. Her behavior, when she was kidnapped by Ironbridge, had me fast forwarding through the sections. The character defects are explained through a complex mix of history and bio-engineering, but it didn’t stop the pain of me hearing it. My inner “Girl Power” wasn’t having it. Her character has changed since the beginning of the story but I need to see more change.
Overall, this story is very complex in its backstory. It deals with social issues, slavery, the ethics of bio-engineering, and PTSD. However, Asaro does do an amazing job of creating a story where different elements mix together. While science is a key element, readers won’t need an engineering degree to enjoy it.
About the Author:
Catherine Asaro is an American science fiction and fantasy author. She is best known for her books about the Ruby Dynasty, called the Saga of the Skolian Empire. Catherine Asaro was born in Oakland, California and grew up in El Cerrito, California. She has a PhD in chemical physics and an A.M. in physics, both from Harvard University, and a B.S. with highest honors in chemistry from UCLA. When not writing and making appearances at conventions and signings, Asaro teaches math, physics, and chemistry. | Author Website