30 Mar

Book Rec: Border Crosser by Tom Doyle (SF-spy thriller)

Border Crosser by Tom Doyle coverTLDR: a psychopathic, psychotic spy/killer/extreme artist/harbinger of Armageddon wants to save/kill/fuck/all of the above humanity. Strange, cold, bloody, and strangely sympathetic.

Warning: Triggers galore!

I have no idea how to classify Border Crosser. By rights, it should be horrible, a 2020’s psychological equivalent of the 1970’s blaxploitation movies. A psycsploitation. Or weirdsploitation.

Even so, it works because… I have no idea why, but it does.

The MC in Border Crosser suffers from violent borderline personality disorder, with elements of psychopathy and emotional amnesia – she flips between loving and hating pretty much everything and everyone.

Put this into a grimdark, violent, star-spanning cyberpunk world, and a narrator voice (first person) which has no qualms about fucking/killing/saving/hurting and you get a fascinating, occasionally difficult, and very trigger-y read.

Is it well-written? Yes, although it goes of the deep end (and that’s saying something) towards the end.

Is it good? Yes, it’s a masterpiece on the level of William Gibson’s Neuromancer or Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Reminds me quite a lot of Snow Crash, actually- Border Crosser is Snow Crash taken to the extreme.

But is it readable? I’m going to go with “it depends.”

I couldn’t put it down. Eris’s voice, her neuroses, her extreme violence, matri-/patricide fantasies, slowly revealed backstory, and character arc kept me glued to the page.

At the same time, I can see why some people hate it.

Border Crosser isn’t a book for everyone. But if you can stomach visuals like Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, with a liberal dose of Clockwork Orange and Apocalypse Now, and an absurdity level that bounces up against, but never crosses, Monthy Python at it’s best, then you’re going to love Border Crosser.

Blurb

In a galaxy gone insane only a madwoman would fight for freedom.

Eris is a charismatic spy with a violent borderline personality and emotional amnesia—she doesn’t remember her loyalties. This allows her to pass from world to world without mental scanners detecting her long-term intentions, making her a “border crosser.”

The Asylum cabal has artificially amplified Eris’s condition so that she’ll cause interstellar chaos for the limited time she survives. When Eris discovers the Asylum’s manipulation of her, she sets out to find its hidden leaders and destroy them.

From decadent old Earth to the frontier estates of Mars, Eris hunts her first quarry, the Asylum’s architect of genocides. But when her chase leads her out to the stars, she discovers still deadlier dangers from humanity’s past and her own. As she fights these galaxy-spanning nightmares, Eris must also struggle to recover her own mind.

As Eris would say, “The only thing necessary for interstellar evil to triumph is for brilliant and sexy killer me ever to stop, darling.”

Praise for Tom Doyle’s American Craftsmen

“Other authors have blended soldiering and sorcery, but few have brought Doyle’s well-crafted prose style, carefully paced plotting, and depth of characterization to the trope. The gradual revelation of the intricate ‘secret history’ behind the spell-wielding soldiers and the long-simmering family feuds intertwined with that history add intrigue and depth to the slam-bang action of the opening chapters.”

Library Journal

“Tom Doyle blends an intricately re-envisioned history of America with literary references, some bold, some sly, in this genre-bending thriller. It’s a feat of craftsmanship to be celebrated!”

Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the Kushiel series

“An exhilarating mix of magic, military action, American history (the fun kind), and a Jason Bourne-like race to stop the real bad guys.”

Jack Campbell, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Fleet series

“Tom Doyle has taken every Sci-Fi Channel and Coast to Coast radio show concept and incorporated them into a very entertaining novel. At first, I was startled to encounter so many themes, then I was drawn to admire the skills he used to weave them together, and then I just sat back and enjoyed the show. I also learned the truth about how Stonewall Jackson was killed. Great fun.”

Jerry Pournelle

“American Craftsmen is a good adventure story; the characters held my attention and I liked the way real history merged with fantasy.”

Larry Niven, author of the Ringworld series

“Tom Doyle’s American Craftsmen is a fast-moving and intriguing novel that incorporates features of combat fantasy, special-operations, alternative history, block ops, and even a touch of romance into a seamless action tapestry offering a far richer read than most action adventures without sacrificing either action or speed.”

L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

“Tom Doyle is an American Brother Grimm. It’s almost as if Edgar Alan Poe and Philip K Dick teamed up to write a military action-thriller.”

Nicole Galland

“The story is poised at the junction of at least two genres–military thrillers and urban fantasy. American Craftsmen is politically sophisticated while still being a hot-blooded, quintessentially American story.”

Stephanie Dray

“American Craftsmen is a book filled with mages–the “craftsmen” of the title–but at the center of them all is the archmage and word-sorcerer, Tom Doyle.”

Charles E. Gannon

“Tom Doyle’s American Craftsmen is an exciting cross between dark urban fantasy and special ops thrillers. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Eric Flint

Links

Border Crosser homepage

Border Crosser at Goodreads

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