(1952- ) US author whose childhood in a peripatetic military family and two years of military service clearly provides background and ambience throughout her main work, the Jurisdiction Universe Military SF sequence comprising An Exchange of Hostages (1997), Prisoner of Conscience (1998), Hour of Judgment (1999), Angel of Destruction (2001), The Devil and Deep Space (2002) and Warring States (2006). This knowledgeableness enriches her depiction of the protagonist of the series, Andrej Koscuisko, a surgeon assigned the task of inquisitor in a military centre in space, where Torture (> Crime and Punishment) is a standard technique. Koscuisko, a man visibly wracked by conscience and with a family he has not seen for years, is more a Hornblower in Space than a Severian – the willing torturer in Gene Wolfe's The Shadow of the Torturer (1979) – and as the sequence advances into more conventional Space Opera territory, though with a noirish tinge, Matthews increasingly portrays him as a competent military commander sensitive to ethical concerns.
Her two singletons similarly confront personable characters with exceedingly difficult dilemmas. Avalanche Soldier (1999), set in an Alternate World, thrusts its female soldier – the title is applied to members of an elite paramilitary unit – into conflicts involving Religion at a point where Orthodoxy is threatened by Reformation; Colony Fleet (2000) is a Generation Starship tale, focusing on the end of the hegira, when the five target planets (> Colonization of Other Worlds) have nearly been reached. [JC]
Susan R Matthews
born Smyrna, Georgia: July 1952
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