Reviews and Commentary

 Deceit 
The New Adventures
Peter Darvill-Evans
©1993

The New Adventure: Deceit, with some references to Lucifer Rising and Parasite and popular fan conceptions of the Space Bitch. I only care about Ace, for the purpose of this discussion. I'm going to natter on in some length.

That first book was written by the editor of the NAs, so we can take all the info in it as "fact". The guy's writing style is very plain, very strict about showing rather than telling, and it's packed with data. But he doesn't point it out to you with lyrical writing or character's inner thoughts. You have to stop and reach conclusions, not merely accept things at face value. A lot of people don't like that. They complain about reader conclusions not being "continuity". Those people can go hang themselves for lack of creativity and willingness to engage. The other thing important to know is the "appendix" is part of the book - part of the story. You do need to read it and factor in the information into your understanding of the textual events.

From what I gather, when we see Ace at the beginning of Deceit, she is a commissioned officer from a branch of Space Fleet. Ace feeds lines to everyone throughout this story but her "truths" don't jive with actions and events. Just because a character says something on the page, to another character, doesn't mean they're telling the audience the truth. I didn't need to read Parasite to confirm that she'd been through (CO) officer training. Keep in mind that Parasite was written by the fellow who co-wrote Lucifer Rising (in essence, Deceit part 2).

First of all, she sneaks on board a military craft that has been commandeered by a semi-AWOL, Office of External Operations agent. Ostensibly, she claims she's just dying to kill more Daleks but she's planned this infiltration in advance, and the agent knows it. All the other troopers (privates and NCO) are throwing a party, acting like animals, undisciplined, etc, but Ace stays apart from them. She remains in uniform and is self-disciplined. As written, she is not one of them. While she considers the plausibility of a dalek-hunting mission, she gusses out pretty early on that this mission is something else. She specializes in information-intelligence and code-breaking. You'd almost think that she was under orders to track the rogue agent. A senior OEO officer states that the situation is under control, just before Ace is shown infiltrating the rogue vessel.

She doesn't acknowledge the agent's command of the mission. When the agent lays a hand on her, in restraint, Ace stares her down and I don't think that was Ace just being her usual antisocial self. She stays around on the bridge and interacts casually with other officers. She gives orders, repeatedly. All of this is observed by the agent and none of it jives with her "joe bob the infantry soldier" story.

Ace started out in the corporate sector, probably exchanging labor for passage off Heaven. She worked as a security officer, maybe for the Interstellar Mining Corporation. At this time period, Earth Central (runs the OEO) was working to divide and conquer the corporate monopolies while also battling the Dalek Invasion (via Space Fleet). One thing they did was commandeer corporate soldiers/security personnel into an Auxiliary unit. Ace was basically drafted (but not drafted) into the space marines, but she was already highly specialized in small armaments, so would have automatically gone in as a specialist/technical sergeant.

Assuming that she was qualified to act as a staff sergeant, as shown in Lucifer Rising (where she serves an IMC CO, whom she has been charged to investigate by Someone), she probably climbed the ranks a bit while on the front line. There are enough flashbacks in various NAs to convince me she did act as an infantry soldier for at least one tour of duty. Nevertheless, she's a smart cookie and doesn't trust the Man. If she wasn't recommended for it, she probably submitted for officer training (as said earlier, confirmed in Parasite).

Who is she an officer for? I don't know, but it's a department with a close relationship to the OEO and with a vested interest in underminding corporate influence - referring to the events of Lucifer. That's evident from the end of Deceit, when Ace is clearly on good terms with the formerly suspicious agent (OEO) and Benny picks up on a hidden mission beginning with Lucifer. I kept thinking of the political relationships between departments like the CIA, FBI, Secret Service and Military Intelligence. They check up on each other.

So, yes, as much as I like the Mercenary fic series (angst!), I don't believe it. I think Ace did turn into the very thing she always despised: a facist boot-licker. And then the rest of the NAs were about how she quit being that, while retaining her acquired leadership skills and self-discipline. Fun stuff. Oh, and there was this Doctor guy and Benny person along for the ride, whoever they are.

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