Sorry to be so vague; The book I'm trying to find was from the POV of a female cargo pilot transporting some sort of technology that is banned from humans by the other races of which one race are fish (aquatic at least) that floated around in balls full of water. She has a semi AI (I think) computer in her spaceship. There was a scene where she had to activate an alien spacesuit technology that was black and spread over her body like liquid. I think it was published around 2006.

  • The poured-on spacesuit sounds like something I remember from one of the "Diving Universe" stories from Kristine Katherine Rusch. An independent female protagonist would also fit there. Unfortunately I can't easily find any online synopsis to confirm this hunch. – The Photon Sep 9 '13 at 21:11

This is Stealing Light by Gary Gibson, first published 2007.

The liquid suit:

Convinced the life support was about to collapse, she activated her filmsuit. It spilled out of her skin from dozens of artificial pores, a flood of black ink that cocooned and protected her inside her own liquid spacesuit, growing transparent over her eyes so as to display the darkened space around her in infrared.

The fish race is known as the Shoal, and they are the only ones to have faster-than-light technology.

Dakota's spaceship Piri Reis is sufficiently intelligent that she has normal conversations with it.

  • @timpb thank you so much. Stealing light is the right book. i have been racking my brains trying to remember. i have been re- reading all the old sci-fi books that i read and this was one book i really enjoyed. and thanx to you i get to read it again. thanx again so much. – Abrahim phyrux Jan 24 '17 at 20:00

Isn't it Take Back Plenty from Colin Greenland ? The elements you mentioned reminds me that book ... but I may be wrong.

Anyway, it's the story of a woman space cargo driver, which has something to do with at least one alien race ... and my goodreads review clearly exposes some obvious similarities with what you ask (but in french)

Ce roman nous raconte donc les aventures de Tabatha Jute, pilote d’une fidèle gabarre (l’Alice Lidell) intégrant une IA. Elle va se retrouver malgré elle mêlée, comme d’habitude dans les romans de sf, à une aventure qui va bouleverser l’ensemble du système solaire. Et, grâce à un certain caractère, elle va s’en tirer.

Dit comme ça, ça ressemble à une banale balade dans le système solaire, alors qu’il ne s’agit pas du tout de ça. Au début du roman, il me faisait penser à la mécanique du centaure, par son côté délicatement looser, où les personnages principaux sont d’avantage balottés de droite à gauche que moteurs de l’action. Et, même si cette impression est restée, une autre à pris le dessus.

Celle de faire un voyage, de participer à un univers largement plus développé que ce que les quelques centaies du roman peuvent montrer. Alors évidement, ce terme de voyage ne suffit pas à faire de ce roman une oeuvre majeure, mais je ne pense pas que ce soit sa prétention. je pense au contraire que l’auteur cherche à nous emmener dans un univers où les vaisseaux portent des noms de types de navires (frégate, gabarre, ...), où les métaphores et images du monde de la course nautique (au sens course de piraterie) sont nombreuses (figures de proues, équipages ayant des titres nautiques, vaisseaux décrits suivant une terminologie très marine). Bref, ça marche d’enfer.

Malheureusement, cet auteur a voulu mêler à cette atmosphère une espèce d’intrigue géoplitique à l’échelle galactique (parce que, oui, il y a des extra-terrestres à la pelle, qui m’ont d’ailleurs fait penser à Monstres & Cie) et là, il se plante grave. Car cette intrigue, on ne la découvre qu’en toute fin du roman, après une fuite sans fin à travers tout le système solaire, où le brave vaisseau de l’héroïne sera quasiment détruit, et où toutes ses illusions – pas très nombreuses, certes – seront dissipées. Mais il n’y a pas qu’une ambiance maritime bien rendue, dans ce roman, il y a également de magnifiques images, égrennées au cours de récit que Tabatha raconte à son vaisseau, et qui ajoute un charme terrible à l’ensemble. Je pense notamment à certaines histoires de planeurs, et à tout ce rendu d’une civilisation du système solaire vue, comme c’est désormais usuel à travers le prisme des multiples expériences de cette pilote qui a à peu près tout vu.

Au final, je suis assez mitigé sur cette histoire. Si les éléments de décor et d’ambiance sont exceptionnels, l’histoire en elle-même souffre de nombreuses faiblesses, et d’un faux rythme qui en casse, je trouve tout l’intérêt. Quant aux personnages, ils sont si peu décrits qu’on a le plus grand mal à s’y atacher. Pourtant, c’est un roman assez original, sur lequel je me suis peut-être fait une mauvaise idée, non ?

Using Google Translate:

This novel tells us the adventures of Tabatha Jute, pilot of a faithful barge (Alice Lidell) integrating an AI. She will find herself mixed up, as usual in the novels of sf, to an adventure that will upset the entire solar system. And, thanks to a certain character, she will get away with it. Said like that, it looks like a banal walk in the solar system, when it is not at all that. At the beginning of the novel, he reminded me of the mechanics of the centaur, by his delicately looser side, where the main characters are more closely swung from right to left than motors of action. And, even though this impression has remained, another has taken over.

That of making a trip, to participate in a world much more developed than what the few centaies of the novel can show. So obviously, this term of travel is not enough to make this novel a major work, but I do not think it is his claim. I think on the contrary that the author seeks to take us into a universe where vessels carry names of types of ships (frigate, barge, ...), where metaphors and images of the world of nautical racing (in the race sense piracy) are numerous (figures of prows, crews with nautical titles, vessels described in a very marine terminology). In short, it works from hell.

Unfortunately, this author wanted to mix in this atmosphere a kind of galactic geoplitic plot (because, yes, there are extraterrestrials with the shovel, which made me think of Monsters & Cie) and there, it is serious. Because this intrigue, we discover it at the very end of the novel, after an endless escape through the entire solar system, where the brave ship of the heroine will be almost destroyed, and where all its illusions - not very many, certainly - will be dispelled. But there is not only a maritime atmosphere well rendered, in this novel, there are also beautiful images, nibbled during the story that Tabatha tells his ship, and adds a terrible charm to the whole. I am thinking in particular of some stories of gliders, and all this rendering of a civilization of the solar system seen, as is now customary through the prism of the multiple experiences of this pilot who has seen just about everything.

In the end, I am quite mixed on this story. If the elements of decor and atmosphere are exceptional, the story itself suffers from many weaknesses, and a false rhythm that breaks, I find all the interest. As for the characters, they are so poorly described that we have the greatest difficulty in attaching ourselves to them. Still, it's a pretty original novel, on which I may have had a bad idea, right?


It sounds like Startide Rising. Part of the Uplift series.

  • What about that book makes you think it's the right one? Any sort of details you can provide that match the details in the question would make this a much more useful answer. – phantom42 Sep 9 '13 at 4:37
  • In the universe the ship is being hunted for the artifacts from a destroyed alien ship it found. Part of the crew is made up of dolphins that have been uplifted in intelligence. I have not read the book outside of the brief synopsis, but it sounded like it could be a partial match. – Gunner Miller Sep 9 '13 at 14:41
  • Startide Rising was my first thought, but the Liquid Suit is not a match. – aramis Sep 12 '13 at 6:43

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