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By Suzanne Palmer

Discussed November/December 2021

Buy Finder from

Dramatis Personae:

  • Fergus Ferguson (aka… many names) – born in Scotland; occupation: “Finder”
  • Mari Vahn – a member of the Vahn family (lichen farmers on the Wheel Collective)
    • Other Vahns: Mattie aka “Mother,” Mauda, Meg, Mella (5-yr-old), Minnie
  • Dru – Fergus’s friend from Mars
  • Arum Gilger – ambitious crime boss; one of the Cernekan “powers”; current possessor of Venetia’s Sword
  • Borr Graf – Arum Gilger’s enforcer; a cold-blooded killer and fanatical Faither
  • Luceatons – muscle from an exile colony, loyal to Graff and therefore to Gilger
  • Mr. Harcourt – Cernekan kingpin and arms dealer; friend of the Vahns; one of the Cernekan “powers”
  • Bale – Mr. Harcourt’s right-hand man
  • Arelyn Harcourt – daughter of Mr.Harcourt; kidnapped by Arum Gilger
  • Vinsic – ore trader and black marketeer; one of the Cernekan “powers”
  • Ms. Ili – controls much of Cernee’s medical and oxygen generation services; one of the Cernekan “powers”
  • Lord Governor – governor of Cernee; controls the Authority peace keepers; considered the fifth “power.”
  • The Shielders – caretakers of the Cernekan shield systems
  • Venetia’s Sword – sentient star cruiser
  • The Asiig – enigmatic alien race from across The Gap


  • Fergus has a fascinating back-story (why he left Scotland and Earth; what he did on Mars; etc.), which is revealed a bit at a time. What do you think about Palmer’s method(s) for revealing Fergus’s past?
  • Is this McGyver in space?  Is it space opera with a film noir flavor?
  • In many cases, a story’s location seems to become as much a character as the people who live there.  (For example: San Francisco in Maupin’s Tales of the City.)  What do you think about Cernee? For those with a physical book, did the map in front of Chapter 1 help or not?
  • The Cernee collective outside of the larger hubs (Central, Medusa, Sunpoint) consists of smaller habs and rocks that are run by consensus, with a few run as little tyrannies or by gangs. Most are loyal to one or another of the “big five” powers but don’t interfere with visitors passing through. Did you think the governing body of Cernee makes sense?
  • Spore Ticks, a “more terrible way to die than most.” Are the dangers of living in a loose collective of space habitats well defined?  Running out of air – there are recharge stations everywhere; airlock air is sucked out, not vented into space, etc.  What do you think of Palmer’s depiction of solutions to challenges of living in space?
  • The Central policing/security force is the Authority.  How does Cernee keep the collective peace with mob bosses like Gilger and Harcourt (weapons dealer) playing central roles?
  • Do the various ways of traveling around Cernee make sense?  Hand spiders, fly-sticks, personal flyers, cable cars?  Hand spiders require you to hold on. Does this make sense in the vastness of space?  Did you “buy” the FTL/Jump Drive concepts of interstellar travel.
  • How do relationships pull/push the characters?  Are there any love interests?
  • When Mari admits to Arelyn about being part alien and her reaction, did it make you think of the gay analogy of coming out? Speaking of which, are there queer elements in the story?
  • The Asiig are “enigmatic,” to say the least.  What’s your opinion of Palmer’s inclusion of this very inhuman race to the storyline?
  • What’s your opinion about how the Asiig have altered Fergus?  Did it add to the story?
  • Did the ending work? Were all the story threads tied up nicely? Did you notice whether all the final elements were foreshadowed earlier in the book?  Did you see this as the beginning of a series?
  • Did you notice any Easter Eggs (references to pop culture, etc.)?
  • The Shielders are literally on the periphery of Cernee and the story. What role do they play?
  • Many SF books explore the treatment of Artificial Intelligences and their relationship with humanity. How are AI instances treated in this book? Think of Gilger’s versus Fergus’s relationship with the AI / Mindsystem of Venetia’s Sword?
  • Would you read a sequel?

“The Finder Chronicles”

  • Finder (2019)
  • Driving the Deep (2020)
  • The Scavenger Door (2021)
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