Six Degrees: From Tia to Ixil
Welcome back for another savory slice of Six Degrees pie. Last week, Jenelle Schmidt served up a taste of Steelheart and his “epic” struggle to dominate the mere mortals inhabiting planet earth. In describing the characters, she mentioned Tia, a scholar and healer who excels at research and who uses those skills in the service of Prof, the leader of the resistance against Steelheart and the other super beings like him who are ruling over humanity.
It’s not an exact match, but the character she reminded me of was Ixil, an alien mechanic from the novel, The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn. Like Tia, Ixil really is defined mostly by the man he serves. That man, Jordan McKell is a pilot and a smuggler and a fairly no-nonsense type of guy. He’s not trying to run a nefarious sort of life, but he keeps having to make deals on the wrong side of the tracks. Thankfully, more often than not, his right hand “alien” Ixil is there to bail him out. While he doesn’t exactly do “research” like Tia nature, he uses his tiny alien pets to try and resolve the mystery of who is hunting down the Icarus and why the ship seems to attract all the wrong kinds of attention everywhere it goes. Also, like Tia, Ixil is privy to all of the secrets of Jordan’s past, and is the only one the pilot of the Icarus can really trust.
Jordan has been hired by Arno Cameron to fly the Icarus to its destination. He is a rich businessman and also a bit of an archeologist who turns out to be a bit of a visionary with grand plans for what’s on board the Icarus.
Jordan employs a rather unique crew to help him fly the ship. The most frustrating, and least useful of them, is certainly Geoff Shawn, the ship’s electrician. He spends almost the entire journey suffering from withdrawals from some sort of addiction. He is belligerent, self-centered, and just an all around dead beat. The only thing he seems to have a talent for is getting the Icarus and her crew into hot water.
On the more helpful end of the spectrum is Almont Nicabar, the ship’s engine technician. While he seems suspicious of Jordan at times, he’s generally the most dependable, gung-ho member of the crew. He’s physically no push over and able to keep his wits about him when things start going south for the crew.
Finally, there’s Brother John, the wary middleman who serves as a contact between Jordan and the cosmic mafia lord who is using Jordan to smuggle his contraband. Brother John grows increasingly impatient with Jordan’s constant excuses and mishaps over the course of the novel. It’s clear that he’s not out to see Jordan raked over the coals, but he is also no great friend either. All he wants is to keep this loose canon from blowing up in the face of his powerful patron.
Icarus is a fascinating tale, a rare blend of good old fashioned science fiction with a mystery at its heart. It plays out like a crime novel with many twists and turns and yet the scifi elements are just as strong.
And just as the Icarus ends up flying to all sorts of strange and unexpected destinations, it will be interesting to see what galaxy this Six Degrees trek lands us in next month. For details on how this whole character connecting, book hopping series works, be sure to check out the Six Degrees main page where you can find links to all the posts so far.
Happy (book) hunting!