This week’s Danger Gal profile is about Sirantha Jax from Ann Aguirre’s novel GRIMSPACE. If you haven’t read this book yet, please note that spoilers follow.
Sirantha Jax is a Jumper, part of a small group of people genetically attuned to navigate ships through Grimspace. Such abilities lead to a shortened lifespan, but Jax is unique among her kind, having survived over 500 jumps and living to the ripe old age of 33. The story opens after the destruction of her ship and with it the death of hundreds of people, the least of which was Jax’s pilot and lover. Jumpers and their pilots often become involved due to the nature of Grimspace where their minds must intertwine. Jax finds herself in a psych lockup with memory loss from the event when March breaks into the station and offers escape — at a price. His rogue Jumper has just died, so getting off the station means jumping one more time, a jump that could be her last.
Once past this initial conflict, Jax learns that March and his crew are trying to create an alternate group of jumpers to wrest control of Grimspace away from the Corp monopoly. Jax’s journey becomes one of moving from caring only about herself to caring about a cause, and March is the catalyst for this change. Aguirre’s choice of first person point of view plants the reader firmly in Jax’s mindset, that of an acid-tongued smart-ass who wants to think she cares only about herself, but as SciFi Weekly points out:
Sirantha never really manifests the celebrity jumper’s snobbery she ascribes to herself. True, she often puts her own needs and wants ahead of other folks’. But that’s not rock-star attitude. That’s the behavior of a grief-stricken person who has narrowly escaped death herself, and who is compelled to help people she barely knows and doesn’t like.
This makes Jax likable for me, and also lends credibility to her character arc. Her inaccurate view of herself makes it that much more believable when Jax finally joins March’s cause. Jax’s voice is so strong, that adding other points of view in the story would have been distracting. March’s psi abilities, specifically his ability to read Jax’s mind, gives the reader a round-about point of view from March as well.
March is a catalyst and example to Jax. He’s made his own journey into caring about something larger than himself, but he’s had to sacrifice parts of himself to get there, a void it seems only Jax can fill because of their unique psi connection. The jumper-pilot relationship is an intimate one, but March’s psi abilities increase that exponentially. Jax’s unique compatibility provides a stabilizing effect and enables March to interact with others more easily. Jax’s smart-mouth attitude is ultimately a cover for her not believing in herself, for falling into the trap that all she has to offer is the J-gene. She tricks herself into believing the few moments of bliss in Grimspace are all that really matter to her. However, March’s psi abilities enable Jax to see herself through someone else’s eyes, and she becomes stronger from that interaction when Jax realizes the difference she can make against the Corp. Through March’s example Jax finds the tools needed to transform herself and also complete March’s own final transformation into a more well-rounded individual.
Plus, when Jax tells March to “frag off” in her mind, it’s fun.
I agree with SciFi Weekly in that Aguirre writes March as “interestingly dark and driven, without turning him into a bad-boy alpha-male cliche.” Both Jax and March subvert stereotypes, mostly by flipping emotional expectations. Aguirre writes March as, initially, the more emotionally aware of the two and Jax is the one unable to easily commit. March’s hard-won emotional balance was learned from an older female teacher, a gun-toting wild woman who sacrifices herself for the greater good. I found this Obi-Wan Kenobi twist on the usually-evil crone stereotype refreshing. Also, Jax often makes decisions based on what she wants out of life rather than out of fear of how people will judge her if she chooses the unexpected.
Three more books are expected in this series, and I know I’ll be looking for them on the bookshelves. Check out the following reviews for more information on GRIMSPACE:
[Many thanks for the insight, Mr. FuManchu]