cover image Warp Angel

Warp Angel

Stuart Hopen. Tor Books, $21.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85903-9

Hopen's occasionally ambitious debut is a space opera whose arias deal as often with theology as with derring-do. The story line follows the adventures of Magen, who has rediscovered her Jewish roots (though she declares her faith more often than she practices it), as she causes havoc, frees biologically created slaves and searches for her husband, Adam, taken prisoner by slavers. Adam looms over the book more than he appears in it, while the fascinating Amelia--the former warp-speed pilot who initially helps Magen on a bet--proves nearly as interesting as Magen. When ``intense consensual sex and a rapidly approaching shared orgasm'' leave Amelia ``a helpless blob of pleasure,'' the reader knows what type of adventure novel this is, which may explain why most of the scenes written from a woman's point of view are awkward, to say the least. There are fascinating elements throughout this rambunctious first novel, including its premise that travel at ``warp drive'' can unravel the fabric of the universe, but the separate parts never gel into a fully engaging whole, and the resolution is ultimately due more to a deus ex machina than to natural forces. A sequel seems likely; perhaps Hopen's talent will be more effectively focused there. (May)