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Review: “Fragments” by Zen DiPietro

Title: Fragments

Series: Dragonfire Station #2

Author: Zen DiPietro

Genre: LGBTQ Science Fiction

Publisher: Parallel Worlds Press (Sold by Amazon)

Pages: 227

Blurb

Fallon and her team need answers. But before they can storm the PAC base on Earth, they need to find supplies and deal with Fallon’s memory loss. Her strange dreams sure aren’t helping matters. If they’re memories that her brain is trying to reconstruct, her brain is just going to have to work harder at making some sense.

Either way, once they arrive at Earth, all bets are off. As soon as they steal the information they need, it will be kill or be killed.

Elite intelligence operations don’t issue polite warnings.

Review

This is the second book in a killer science fiction series set in futuristic space, similar to Deep Space Nine and Babylon Five. I’d also say if you’re a fan of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, you’re going to love this. The novel has the same hard science we know and love, and DiPietro devotes some time taking us through the agonies of transportation in space. In my review of the first book, I was hesitant to introduce any of the main players or talk about their character development because I didn’t want to spoil the mysterious elements, but now that you all know who’s who, let’s dig into it!

By the end of the first book, we discover Em is a part of a covert operation, where something has gone terribly wrong. She’s the leader of a specialized unit of four: two men and two women. This unit is closer than family, closer than blood. Their slogan is “blood and bone”, that’s how close they are, and when they find out what’s happened to Em, they come together quickly and efficiently to solve the case.

In book one I was calling the story a lesbian science fiction mystery of sorts, but as we got into the series more, it became clear Em is more pansexual than lesbian. Her relationship by the end of book one is pretty much dissolved, which opens her to a whole new set of problems when she realizes her previous self had a relationship with one of the members on her team, Raptor.

Now I read a bunch of reviews poo-pooing this ‘bait and switch’, but I didn’t think it was intended to be that way. Em is pansexual–besides being attracted to all sexes of humans, she has a pretty strong attraction to a certain lizard species. In fact, most of the members on her team are fluid, both professionally–because they are spies–and in their free time. This book being more accurately classified as LGBTQ doesn’t take away that important lesbian visibility or message, it merely puts it into a greater category. Em is still queer. She’s just discovering she has feelings for a man. Getting all upset about it merely emphasizes the dangers of bi erasure in our community.

A good question may be why Em got married to a woman, her mark no less, when she was still in love with Raptor. That question hasn’t been answered yet, but I suppose it may have something to do with Em being dutiful to the role of being the leader of their operation, and the fact that she truly did love her wife. It was her wife who broke things off when she discovered Em was initially spying on her, not Em.

Speaking of Raptor, from the moment he walks into (okay, sneaks into and assaults) Em’s life, I knew there was something up. I didn’t want to say anything in the first review, because spoilers, but come on. The dude is an impressive covert operative one minute, and using lame deflective jokes the next. He has no armor around Em. There was also a big hint from the two other team members when they expressed surprise that Em got married without checking with Raptor first, and if that’s not a big red flag, I don’t know what is.

Though he was tormented, Raptor allowed Em to come to her own realizations on her own time. It must have really sucked for him to return from a far-away mission, intending to get to the bottom of the hinky doings of their government, but also probably wanting to confront Em about her marriage, and then find out he can’t have closure because Em doesn’t remember anything. He may never know why Em broke–what he may consider–a sacred bond between them to marry someone else, be them man or woman or lizard, but he does what he thinks is best for her: gives her space and soldiers on. Despite his childish flaws, he acts admirably when he needs to.

The other members of Em’s team are Hawk and Peregrine. Em is the leader and strategist, Raptor is the hacker, Hawk is the… let’s just call him the acquisitions specialist, and Peregrine is the disguise/surveillance expert.

Hawk was a fun character, a big Dom, who prefers men but will play with just about anyone. He’s easy going, likes his sexual flings, and loves his group. He has a big heart but is also a stone cold killer. And man, can that dude take a beating.

There’s another book, so I’m hoping to get to know Peregrine more. We had a little face time with her–and I wanted to give the author thanks for that–but most of the story is spent on Em. Quite a bit of the story is also devoted to Raptor, but ultimately they are all part of this unbreakable bond. They are their own people but they are also very much for each other. It was touching, but it quickly became obvious how delicate that situation could be, especially with Em not remembering anyone and Raptor hurting. I’m still not completely certain how Em and Raptor can be an item, with her technically being the leader, but something Raptor said at one point helped me understand a bit more. He mentioned the military was everything to him. He couldn’t see himself doing anything else. Because of that, he didn’t imagine he’d live long, probably die bleeding out after some mission or another, but when he did take his last breath he wanted it to be in Em’s arms.

And I think that’s how they all feel. When they go, they want to go out together.

We’ll see what the next book has in store for them.

Blood and bone.


Ben Brock is a reviewer for The Novel Approach and Queer Sci Fi. He enjoys running, whisk(e)y, the mythical gluten-free donut, and fills his life with bent bunk. He especially loves to discuss LGBTQ+ literature. His website is http://www.babrockbooks.com. You can find him on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/BABrockBooks.

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