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