This weeks’ Danger Gal Friday is Captain Chasidah “Chaz” Bergren from Linnea Sinclair’s RITA Award Winning Science Fiction Romance Gabriel’s Ghost.

Chaz BergrenChaz Bergren was once the Pride of the Sixth Fleet and captain of an interstellar patrol ship who often pursued smugglers like Gabriel Sullivan, but the story opens with Chaz sentenced to a penal planet after a court martial for a crime she didn’t commit. From the opening scene, Chaz breaks with stereotypes by getting herself out of her own jam: In the first few pages she kills an eight foot Takan bent on rape. From the get-go we understand Chaz is not to be taken lightly.

Sinclair writes fun space opera, but what she really excels at is intertwining a solid Science Fiction story with Romance. Chaz and Sully have a long history of cat and mouse games, and that undercurrent of attraction weaves its way into every interaction between these two characters, but it doesn’t overshadow other aspects of their personalities or the story.

Chaz is not only an excellent patrol ship captain, but an exceptional one, and also an expert in small weapons and hand-to-hand combat. When she thinks that Sully’s offer of freedom is a trap Chaz calls him on it, threatening bodily harm that isn’t a bluff. She’s been on the prison planet for three weeks at this point in the story and still maintains a calm and in control attitude. Sully isn’t there only just to rescue her, he needs her skills for a very important run.

One of the reviews on Sinclair’s web site is from Cindy Penn of the Midwest Book Review, who points out something else interesting about Chaz:

“Furthermore, I confess to a growing weakness for mature heroines who can present themselves as total equals, matching strengths and vulnerabilities to men with likewise believable and endearing characterizations.”

Chaz and Sully have different areas of expertise and they respect that in each other. Chaz isn’t out trying to prove her skills every other page, which is refreshing. No one questions her piloting abilities. Even more than that, Chaz is a sexually experienced woman, once married and divorced. Compared to the monkish life Sully has led, Chaz is in many ways much more experienced.

I don’t want to spoil what Sully’s secret is if you haven’t read this novel yet, especially since it’s fundamental to the story and to Chaz’s acceptance of him. I will say though, that on a second reading it’s fun to see all of the hints Sinclair sprinkled throughout the beginning of the novel. In hindsight, I should have guessed his secret, but it was woven in so subtly I accepted it as part of his personality. It’s delightful to see Sully acting in character throughout the novel, and perhaps that’s why when his secret is revealed it feels right. It’s a surprise, but one that grows out of the naturally unfolding story.



10 Responses to “Danger Gal Friday: Captain Chasidah "Chaz" Bergren”

  1. Hey Lisa, Thanks for highlighting Chaz! Yep, she’s a very take-charge kind of woman, raised that way to a great extent, having grown up in a military environment. She’s an interesting character to write–and I’m writing her as we speak because I’m doing the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost–because she also has a strong soft streak. She’s vulnerable which is what make her also a good leader. She has compassion.

    I think that’s what strong women can bring to the table, in real life or fiction. That element of compassion.

    I know for the ten+ years I was a private detective, I viewed many cases (and confrontations) from a different perspective than my male partners. I tried to inject that wisdom in Chaz.

    Cindy Penn’s review of Gabriel’s Ghost has long been one of my favorites. She “got” completely the message I was trying to create in the story. I do like writing and reading the mature heroine. The one who’s had some life-scars. The one who knows how to trust herself. The one who’s still willing to take chances and make mistakes.

    I hope you continue to enjoy her adventures when SHADES OF DARK comes out in 2008.

    Thanks again, ~Linnea

  2. Thanks for stopping by Linnea! I’m definitely looking forward to SHADES OF DARK. Do you feel that you’ve had fewer or more options in writing a SFR sequel like SHADES OF DARK, about a couple who has already had their own book? Non-SF Romance has its share of sequels, but it’s usually limited to books connected in a series where the initial couple are secondary characters in following books. It sounds like Chaz and Sully get to be in the spotlight again as main characters.

  3. You’re right, Linnea writes a great space opera – with a delightful twist! And not just in ‘Gabriel’s Ghost’. All of her books are great reads! Being a dyed in the wool SF reader I wasn’t sure about the first book, ‘Accidental Goddess,’ when a friend gave it to me. But I loved it and went back for more!

    I’ve gobbled all of Linnea’s books and I’m waiting ::impatiently:: for her newest, ‘Down Home Zombie Blues’ to arrive. Then I have ‘Shades of Dark’ to look forward to!

    I love the fact that her heroines are mature, well thought out, accomplished characters who don’t know how to simper… And her hero’s aren’t perfect, just desirable with all their faults… And that their stories are part of the whole story, not something stuck in to appeal to the romance market. ‘Gabriel’s Ghost’ is a GREAT space opera with well thought out romance as a part of the story line.

    PLEASE keep writing Linnea! I want more!

    KPON

  4. You’re right, Linnea writes a great space opera – with a delightful twist! And not just in ‘Gabriel’s Ghost’. All of her books are great reads! Being a dyed in the wool SF reader I wasn’t sure about the first book, ‘Accidental Goddess,’ when a friend gave it to me. But I loved it and went back for more!

    I’ve gobbled all of Linnea’s books and I’m waiting ::impatiently:: for her newest, ‘Down Home Zombie Blues’ to arrive. Then I have ‘Shades of Dark’ to look forward to!

    I love the fact that her heroines are mature, well thought out, accomplished characters who don’t know how to simper… And her hero’s aren’t perfect, just desirable with all their faults… And that their stories are part of the whole story, not something stuck in to appeal to the romance market. ‘Gabriel’s Ghost’ is a GREAT space opera with well thought out romance as a part of the story line.

    PLEASE keep writing Linnea! I want more!

    KPON

    PS: If this appears twice… well, I tried…

  5. Well, JD/Nora has kept Eve and Roarke ::sigh:: going for quite a while. 😉

    Sully and Chaz’s story simply wasn’t yet finished. Gabriel’s was written with the intention of having a sequel. It wasn’t something I thought of later but it had always been two (or more) books to me. When Gabriel’s ends (trying not to get into spoiler territory here), Chaz and Sully have just made the initial commitment to each other. There’s still a lot at risk, a lot to learn, a lot to experience. The galaxy is still a very dangerous place and the bad guys have not been given a much-deserved whoopin’. 😉

    More so than any of my other books and characters, Sully and Chaz’s relationship faces the most challenges, both internally and externally. A lot of it’s Sully’s fault but a lot is because of Chaz’s linear way of thinking. She likes her ducks and her data all in a row. Being linear has saved her butt many times; it’s a workable system for her. Until she meets Sully.

    Sass (Captain Tasha Sebastian) from Games of Command would have reacted completely differently to Sully but Sass is far more intuitive, suspicious and creative than Chaz is.

    By the way, I’m not very linear at all so writing Chaz has meant putting on a different mindset for me.

  6. Great post, Lisa, and I love reading these stellar comments. One factor that always amazes me about the Danger Gal characters I read about in SF/SFR/fut (etc.,) is how complex—and complicated—they are. I really look up to these characters because of their intelligence, savvy ways, compassion, and leadership abilities. I love reading about their adventures because I know they won’t respond in a two dimensional fashion. They keep me guessing.

    Chaz is mature without being stuffy. She’s the kind of woman who can embark on fantastic adventures and it’s compelling and believable—despite the space opera aspect–because Linnea has given her so many interesting layers.

  7. I for one have been waiting for the continuation of this story since I first read it when it was published in its original incarnation at LTD Books. Gabriel’s Ghost is so far my favorite of Linnea’s books.

    But to get back your topic, all of Linnea’s heroine’s are strong competent women. “Competent” sounds a bit like damning with faint praise, but I mean it as defined, not necessarily as it can be sometimes used. They’re knowledgeable, able, confident, strong, comfortable with themselves. Eminently competent.

    I hate the term “kick-ass heroine”, because it makes me think of teenagers pretending to be ninjas (like Buffy or Alias). Children that Hollywood wants us to believe are “bad-ass”, but still have perfect manicures and make-up. Big eye-roll.

    So if you want to read grown-up, strong, confident women – pick up any of Linnea’s books.

  8. Thanks for your comments, kids! You might want to check out my blog today at http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/
    where I talk about how I designed Jorie Mikkalah–a very competent gal you’ve yet to fully meet. The full blog URL (this might truncate) is here:
    http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2007/10/shes-got-clout-and-classand-knows-how.html

    I don’t have the issues with kick-butt as a term, Miki, possibly because I’m inured to it. I realize it’s buzz-jargon. But I can see where it also implies almost a cartoonish aggression.

    Being comfortable with onesself is probably something Chaz has more than Trilby (Finders Keepers) or Gillie (An Accidental Goddess. Jorie has that element, too. Trilby and Gillie had some growth in that area. Sass (Games of Command) was comfortable with herself and yet very uncomfortable with her past. She was an interesting mix to write. ~Linnea

  9. I know what you mean, Miki, about the term “kick-ass,” but I haven’t found a suitably catchy term with which to replace it. I’m always fielding ideas on that.

    Linnea, I’m really excited for THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES to come out in November. I like that you’ve flipped the gender roles on the “Starman” idea, not to mention all the other world-building I’m sure is there.

  10. Lisa, the weirdest (and “funnest”) thing was world building our own world in ZOMBIE. When you have to actually analyze what we do, why we do it and how it appears…it’s very comical. 😉 ~Linnea

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