Travel Documents 70: The Dalí Tamareia Missions

The Dalí Tamareia Missions

 E.M. Hamill

 

Genre: far-future, space exploration, gender diversity, nonbinary

 Link To Buy

The Dust Cover Copy

Book 1

Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction.

Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.

The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.

Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

Book 2

Third-gender operative Dalí Tamareia thought their life as an ambassador ended when they joined a galactic intelligence agency. When they’re yanked out of the field and tapped to negotiate the surrender of deadly bio-engineered warriors who crashed into hostile territory, Dalí is thrust headfirst back into the tumultuous world of galactic diplomacy.

Dalí has faced Shontavians before, but not like these. The stranded mercenaries are highly intelligent and have an agenda of their own. Dalí can’t afford to be distracted from the negotiations by their own demons or the presence of a charming diplomat with a mysterious past.

As a brewing civil war threatens to derail the entire mission, Dalí must use all their skills to bring this dangerous situation to a peaceful end—but the Shontavians may not be the biggest monsters at the table. Someone is determined to see Dalí and their team dead before they discover the brutal truth hidden in the wreckage.

The Deets

The Scene

World building

In our future, humanity has met other species. And it turns out, they’re just people too. They’re not better or worse, just different. Which means we’re right back to where humanity is right now, the interactions between our nations writ large between planets. The people who scream about the Chinese Flu today are screaming about Human Liberty and rejecting the possibility of humans joining the inter-species United Nations tomorrow. They’re also bleating about their ‘fear’ of changes in humanity; specifically, the evolution of a biological third gender who can physically slide along the gender spectrum through hormone cascades. It’s a pretty amazing evolutionary change. But it’s new enough that some factions of humanity are frothing in their terrified fury.
Some thing never change.

Treading the future possibilities somewhere between The Expanse and Star Trek Deep Space Nine, this world is a totally believable one, creating situations that allow us to consider situations analogous to current events, while coming off as completely fresh and original. It has the good, the bad,and the ugly of a living world, along with all the personalities and motivations in between.

 

The Crowd

Characterization

Speaking to that weary, sarcastic sense that it’s the same shit and a different century, Dalí is the perfect main character for the story. Finally, FINALLY, we’ve been given what we wanted as readers of spec-fic: a badass nonbinary character who can fight, fuck and eff up anyone who gets in their way, maybe all three. It is so good to see an enbie character who needs nobody to protect them: a perfectly competent nonbinary character with complete agency, who is so over anybody commenting on their gender. You got a problem with what’s in their pants? That’s your loss and your problem. That’s Dalí.
As we enter the story, they come off as a hedonistic hothead with a thing for picking fights, and absolutely no fucks to give. But very quickly, you realize what’s going on: Dalí has lost their wife, their husband and their unborn child to a terrorist attack, one they feel they could have prevented. They’re in self-destruct mode. Despite what their pain tells them, they do have a lot of people there and ready to support them: their parents, a supportive and loving couple of diplomats. Their creché-mate Gor, a Zereid who is like a brother to them…well, a seven-foot-tall blue brother from another mother, but hey, family is family. And Gor is there for his sibling when Dalí lets him be.
I really have to tip my head to Hamill for including both realistic portrayals of deep loss-related depression, and most importantly familial support. Too often, authors fall back on the trope of ‘bad family, bad background’ to explain why a loss hits someone so hard. And yeah, that happens. And it’s sad. But you can also have great parents, and good friends, and still be ripped apart by the loss of a loved one. You can be a badass who flips tables and knife-fights without having dead or terrible parents in your past making you that way. So when Dalí’s dad gives them a loving and angry lecture about getting themselves straighened out, when their mom calls and talks hair-styles with them, I got such a grin on my face. And when they grab their adopted brother and kick some serious ass in a fight together, I cheered. Yes. Oh yes. This was what I wanted!

The strong characterization and bonding continues as Dalí is offered a position by a man who introduces himself as Sumner, and realizes they can still do some good in the universe: not as an ambassador, but as a secret agent. As they take the position, they begin to become part of the quirky family on the ship Thunder Child. This crazy and amazing group will hit fans of Farscape just right, and I adored them as a reader. They’re such fun to read as a team, and each character is interesting and well rounded. They’re a band of inter-species siblings, showing their love with quips, one-liners and in-jokes as the best long-term teams do. Watching Dalí fit themselves slowly into the team through the two books was a treat.

Instead of addressing problems in the formal halls of diplomacy, Dalí gets the danger and the sense of effectiveness they need by joining missions in the hands-on gritty dens, floating pirate markets and cut-price mining camps. Oh, speaking of pirates? Oh boy. Pirates, mercenaries and extremists are all written with believable power. Lord Rhix, in particular, is a magnetic personality. And the scenes between him and Dalí practically crackle–or steam–off the page. The characters in this story create amazing chemistry between them.

The Lingo

Writing Style

Snappy and fun in spite of the issues it deals with, this story starts off with the deep pain of a PTSD survivor, and builds from strength to strength: from the finger-biting tension of a good spy thriller, to the high-energy romp of all our favorite space operas. Full of zing, sass and snark, it moves at just the right clip. It’s an absolutely engrossing storytelling style, hard to put down.

The Moves

Plot

With the over-arching goals of ending intergalactic trade in drugs and sentients, cementing humanity into a mutually beneficial relationship with the Remeloid, and finding the people responsible for taking Dalí’s family from them and getting a little eye for an eye action one day, the plots of these stories are essentially episodic, though strong threads connect each mission and keep the overarching story coherent. It’s a bit like peeling an onion each time you pick up an entry in the series: on the first layer there’s fist-fights, shenanigans and some great sass, but as you dig deeper you begin to see the connections between all the little crimes and tragedies that happen in each area. Somebody is pulling a lot of strings out there. That somebody is a bastard. And I can’t wait to see Dalí and the team on the Thunder Child take them down!

Overall Rating

This is a bloody amazing entry into the spacefaring genre. It’s a powerful story of redemption, an absolutely rocking fun ride, and a really supportive story for the LGBT community, all at the same time. There aren’t many books you can say that for.
Bravo.