A Doctor in a Torture State: Susan R. Matthews’ Under Jurisdiction Novels

A Doctor in a Torture State: Susan R. Matthews’ Under Jurisdiction Novels

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Baen Books continues its fine tradition of attractive, inexpensive omnibus editions of top-notch science fiction. Most recently they’ve turned their attention to the Under Jurisdiction novels of Susan R. Matthews, the tales of a doctor of conscience who is a faithful servant of the Bench, where institutionalized torture is an instrument of State. This is a grim (and often controversial) series, as Lisa DuMond noted in her SF Site review of the first two novels:

Andrej Koscuisko wants nothing more than to be a doctor: a surgeon. His father wants him to carry on the family honour by enlisting with the Fleet in its glorious fight to basically control everything. Andrej manages to resist his father’s will for a time, finally giving in only with grudging obedience and quiet resistance. Because, in his position with Fleet, he will indeed be a ship’s chief medical officer — and, incidentally, Ship’s Inquisitor… How can a person dedicated to preserving life and obliterating suffering combine the two functions of the position?

With relish. Amid the blood and screams and seared flesh of the workroom, Andrej Koscuisko will meet his personal monster. A man of honour, compassion, and empathy will find a sexual passion such as he has never known in the agony of his helpless captives. Even as he uses his wits and the amazing skills he has developed to save the lives of others.

Facing this chilling dichotomy is the first step in a life that will tear away at his sanity and self-worth… Throughout the two books, the greatest miracles are pulled off by Matthews herself… More miraculous is the sleight of hand Matthews manages with the character of Andrej. Time and again he enters the workroom to become something we can’t even let ourselves dream about. He emerges, blood-stained and aroused, only to crash into self-loathing.

The opening novel, An Exchange of Hostages, was published by Avon Books in 1997 and nominated for both the Philip K. Dick Award and the John W. Campbell Award, and came in fourth in the poll for the Locus Award for Best First Novel.

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Six novels in the series were published between 1997 and 2006. The first Baen omnibus, Fleet Inquisitor, published last October, contains the first three Under Jurisdiction novels, in series-chronological order.

An Exchange of Hostages (1997)
Prisoner of Conscience (1998)
Angel of Destruction (2001)

Fleet Inquisitor will be followed by Fleet Renegade, to be published next month. It contains:

Hour of Judgement (1999)
The Devil and Deep Space (2002)
Warring States (2006)

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As Matthews notes on her website, there is also a third omnibus collection in the works, Fleet Insurgent, containing short fiction and long novellas. It will be published by Baen later this year.

Fleet Insurgent returns to print short stories published over the years; short stories/novellas posted occasionally to this web site (which is why those pieces aren’t in the Library any longer, sorry); and two novellas never before published in any venue. (Note: I write meaty novellas, in the 30,000 to 60,000 range.)

The short stories include “Insubordination,” in which Joslire is suddenly confronted by the once-Student Inquisitor who so much enjoyed torturing him at Fleet Orientation Station Medical before Andrej’s time. The novellas include Andrej’s first off-ship posting, several months after his arrival on Scylla; Andrej’s First Contact with Security Chief Stildyne and bond-involuntaries assigned to the Jurisdiction Fleet Ship Ragnarok, with ghosts and Joslire’s knives; Andrej’s initial “contract” with Captain Lowden, hellish as it is; and a post-“Blood Enemies” novella addressing some of the aftershocks and developments from that story.

And there’s more. Taken all together this material “fills in the cracks” with respect to some important incidents over the span of the story, as well as addressing some character development issues that wouldn’t/didn’t fit in the novels.

Fleet Insurgent is due for release in late 2017.

But the big news is that all of this is a lead in to the arrival of Blood Enemies, the brand new seventh novel in the Under Jurisdiction series. Here’s the complete deets on all four volumes.

Fleet Inquisitor (960 pages, $17 in trade paperback, October 4, 2016)
Fleet Renegade (992 pages, $17 in trade paperback, February 7, 2017)
Blood Enemies (368 pages, $16 in trade paperback, April 4, 2017)
Fleet Insurgent (Winter 2017)

All will be published in trade paperback by Baen.

Baen has done a really marvelous job with their line of omnibus reprints. Some of the ones we’ve covered recently include:

The Omnibus Volumes of Andre Norton, Part One
The Omnibus Volumes of Murray Leinster
The Omnibus Volumes of James H. Schmitz

Finally, for the really hardcore fans, I tracked down the back-cover copy for all six novels. You’re welcome.

An Exchange of Hostages

Under Jurisdiction torture isn’t about truth. It’s about terror.

The Jurisdiction’s Bench has come to rely on the institutionalized atrocities of the Protocols to maintain its control of an increasingly unstable political environment. When Andrej Koscuisko, a talented young doctor, reports to orientation as a Ship’s Inquisitor he will discover in himself something far worse than a talent for inflicting grotesque torments on the Bench’s enemies. He will confront a passion for the exercise of the Writ to Inquire, whose intensity threatens to consume him utterly.

As Andrej struggles to find some thread of justice and compassion under the Law, and to hang on to what remains of his sanity, he will make powerful enemies who are eager to use his knowledge, his empathy, and his passion against anyone who challenges the Bench.

Prisoner of Conscience

He wanted to be a doctor, but his family sent him to be a Ship’s Inquisitor. Only his fierce determination to hold to justice wherever he can find it has preserved his sanity — his own force of will, and a peculiar partnership with a man condemned by the Bench to serve on pain of agonizing punishment inflicted by the “governor” in his brain.

In Port Rudistal, a defeated people have been consigned to the authority of their ancestral enemies to suffer and work and die like cattle.

Bereft of his friend, drunk on absolute license to work his will on prisoner after prisoner, will Andrej realize what horrors are contained within the walls of the Domitt Prison, and can he bring the truth to light before his enemies silence him forever?

Angel of Destruction

Bench Intelligence Specialist Garol Vogel is one of an elite few chartered by the Bench to uphold the Jurisdiction’s rule of Law by any means he sees fit: to rewrite policy, assassinate corrupt officials, and topple planetary governments at his Jurisdiction’s discretion.

His most treasured achievement was the amnesty he brokered for the Langsarik rebels. But someone is raiding depot stations in the Shawl of Rikavie around Port Charid, torturing and murdering with unprecedented savagery. Vogel knows the Langsariks are innocent, but who could be to blame, and how can he prevent a Judicial crime of horrific proportions?

Garol Vogel finds the answer on the wrong side of the Judicial order he’s served faithfully all his life, and once he sets foot on a path of subversion and sabotage there will be no going back, ever.

Hour of Judgment

Burkhayden is a subject colony, leased by the Bench to a Dolgorukij familial corporation for economic exploitation. When a Nurail woman from the service house is brutally raped and beaten, Andrej Koscuisko — Ship’s Inquisitor on board the Jurisdiction Fleet Ship Ragnarok — is called upon to render services under contract. Before one fateful night is out Andrej Koscuisko will put himself under sentence of death by doing what he realizes at last he should have done from the beginning.

And Port Burkhayden will burn.

The Devil and Deep Space

Andrej Koscuisko, the Ragnarok’s Ship’s Inquisitor, is going home on leave. His ship of assignment is participating in training exercises, and when an observer station unexpectedly explodes. Andrej will have to fight Fleet itself to bring the Ragnarok the only thing that can save the ship and crew from destruction — a single piece of evidence with the potential to change the course of the history of Jurisdiction Space forever.

Warring States

Chilleau Judiciary’s senior administrative officer has been murdered in the very heart of Chambers. Bench Intelligence Specialist Jils Ivers has been unable to ferret out the perpetrator, and that means she’s the Bench’s prime candidate for execution — so that justice may be seen to have been done, whether or not she is guilty.

Andrej Koscuisko means to take this opportunity to execute a daring theft. And if he is successful, the rule of Law will be rocked to its very core, and the fundamental nature of the Bench will be changed forever.

See all of our recent New Treasures here.

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