Sinclair's Sexy Sci-Fi Saga

by Philip K. Jason

YOU MIGHT RUN INTO Linnea Sinclair and her husband, Robert Bernadino, enjoying the downtown Naples night life on Fifth Avenue South or Third Street South, and not imagine that this woman is a force in the world of popular literature. Her favorite hangout, however, is not in Naples, but rather on her web site, www.linneasinclair.com. There she has fashioned The Intergalactic Bar & Grille. It’s the place in space where everybody knows your name. Drop in for a taste of the provocative wit and imagination that flavor Sinclair’s novels. Then you’ll be ready for Hope’s Folly.

Hope’s Folly, Linnea Sinclair’s latest, is a rapid-fire romp through futuristic political intrigue and high-risk passion. Aboard an aging and compromised spacecraft, Admiral Philip Guthrie attempts to thwart the plans of the corrupt Imperial forces. The Imperial leadership, against which the seriously wounded Guthrie has rebelled, is attempting to kill or capture him, and Guthrie, a leader of the newly independent Alliance Fleet, must use the only opportunity available, a failing antique craft smelling of oranges from its recent use as a cargo vessel. To raise this conflict to a higher power, Sinclair puts a determined, talented, and attractive Alliance sub-lieutenant, Rya Bennton, under Guthrie’s command — a man she had fantasized about since childhood when she knew him as the best friend of her father — then an Alliance leader.

Sinclair’s imagined world is drawn successfully on many levels. First of all, there is her confident delineation of the shipboard technology – and especially the weaponry – that makes up the world of Philip, Rya, and the other characters. Tension builds around fixing the failed systems of ‘Hope’s Folly’ in advance of an ultimate confrontation with Imperial might. Sinclair’s sure-handedness in describing the spacecraft’s myriad problems with power generation, armaments and defenses, guidance, and communication make this race against time credible and palpable to the reader. Though for some readers there may be too much space given over to detailing the futuristic hardware, most will enjoy it. No Tom Clancy reader would find Sinclair’s techno-imaginings unwelcome.

Additionally, Sinclair lends sensuality to the hand weapons worn and wielded by Philip and Rya. Rya, especially, is attuned to the eroticism of weaponry. In ‘Hope’s Folly,’ the weapon is as much embraced as worn. It hugs the body and is sometimes joined with it. The curves of the hand weapons and the curves of Sub-Lieutenant Rya Bennton are matched in shape, in seductive power, in explosive potential.

The tug of war between decorum and passion keeps the romantic intrigue smoldering. As the daughter of his best friend, as his military subordinate, and as a women 16 years his junior, Rya would seem off-limits to the smitten Admiral Guthrie. But Rya’s boldness raises the intensity of Guthrie’s temptation. Her proximity to him as the Folly’s chief security officer allows her to impress him with her skills and character while making each accessible to the other. Add the psychology of wartime, the sense that there may not be a future, and the postponement of pleasure seems a fool’s gamble. By alternating which of the main characters is the controlling consciousness of the narrative, Sinclair builds the reader’s appreciation of both Philip’s and Rya’s dilemma. There is a sure-handedness in the way the author enters the thoughts and emotions of her characters that makes them – at least during immersion in the story – convincing and compelling.

A good-sized cast of minor characters populates the closed world of Hope’s Folly. These include a suspected Imperial mole, a by-the-book commander who cracks under stressful circumstances, and several versatile specialist officers who perform their duties bravely. Each minor character is effectively drawn, and each participates in the range of perspectives on the dangers confronting this mission and the Alliance. Sinclair individualizes them with aplomb, and she weaves them into a cohesive team under Admiral Guthrie’s charismatic but sometimes challengeable command. Not the least of these characters is the mysterious Captain Folly, a feline who prowls the spacecraft. As Sinclair’s readers know, a cat always figures in her fiction, and this one seems to embody the spirit of ‘Hope’s Folly,’ at once its mascot and namesake.

Linnea Sinclair was drawn to science fiction when quite young. She was an eager fan of the original Lost in Space, a dedicated Trekkie, and an avid watcher of sci-fi cartoons as a young girl in New Jersey. At five or six years old, she would sneak out of the house at night with her blanket and wait for the aliens to come and get her. Fortunately, they have not yet arrived or Sinclair would be writing on another planet in another language.

Like many successful fiction writers, Sinclair has a background in journalism. After earning a BA in journalism/criminology from Indiana University, she did graduate work in criminology at Florida State. During and after her college studies, Sinclair worked in radio and television news in Tallahassee and later as a newspaper reporter and freelance contributor to newspapers and magazines in New Jersey and in the St. Petersburg area. From 1990-99, while working as a private investigator, Sinclair freelanced articles for the National Association of Investigative Specialists magazine.

I asked Sinclair how her experience in investigative work nourished her writing. Her reply:

“One of the essentials of being a private investigator — at least, how I did it — was to be able to get into the skin/head of the individual you were chasing or profiling or whatever the case required. In order to figure out the subject’s next move or find the subject, you had to understand the subject — most often with very sketchy info to start. So through PI work I learned to understand people, interpret people, think outside the people-box about people. I use many of those same methods in creating my characters and in devising not only the conflicts I throw them into but their reactions as well.”

Sinclair’s career as a sci-fi romance novelist has been (pardon the pun) meteoric. She has won several awards, including the prestigious RITA award for Gabriel’s Ghost, and the 2008 Paranormal Excellence Award for Romantic Literature (PEARL) for Shades of Dark. Linnea Sinclair has reached the mixed blessing status of often being up against deadline, which must mean that her fans and publisher want more. With Hope’s Folly, Linnea Sinclair builds on a secure reputation as a leading fashioner of science fiction romance. She straddles and blends these genres with a unique bravura and wit. Sinclair is likely to enlarge her award collection with this new title, recently released by Bantam Books. •

from the May-June 2009 issue

“Through PI work I learned
to understand people,
interpret people, think outside
the people-box about people.
I use many of those same
methods in cretin my character.”

Linnea Sinclair
b i b l i o g r a p h y
Hope’s Folly (2009)
Shades of Dark (2008)
The Down Home Zombie Blues (2007)
Games of Command (2007)
An Accidental Goddess (2006)
Gabriel’s Ghost (2005)
Finders Keepers (2005)