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Literature / Hostile Takeover (Shwartz)

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A science fiction novel by Susan Shwartz.

Corporate climber CC Williams is sent to the asteroid Vesta-g to investigate possible insider trading, fraud or embezzlement.

CC puts on all the appearances of being a perfect corporate drone. But having bootstrapped her way out out of the slums and into an upwardly mobile career, her debts mean she is one false move away from forced emigration, indentured servitude, organ harvesting or worse.


While a hard science fiction, Hostile Takeover has several unique twists to classic science fiction formulae. For instance, in approved Golden Age manner, the main protagonist is a hard-science type; however, instead of nuclear physics or mechanical engineering, she is a financial analyst.

This work is troperiffic in the extreme. Gleeful shout outs abound to both classic and contemporary media.

Not to be confused with a trilogy of the same name written by S.A. Swann.


Hostile Takeover provides examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Marc is a space-fighter pilot, and has the swagger to go with it.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Though it gets broken, obviously, or where would the drama come from?
  • Artificial Gravity: Doesn't show up until the very end, though.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Explored quite a bit with CC and John. John is a greedy scumbag with no moral compass, while CC is actually quite a romantic, with a desperate desire to secure financial security and safety for herself and future children.
  • Anxiety Dreams: CC's dreams are stalked by what faces her if she fails to pay her debts—namely coldsleep and organ harvesting.
  • Asteroid Miners: Vesta and nearby asteroids are chock full of precious stones and minerals.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Where Vesta is located.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: C'mon, Marc. Stop being such a Jerkass. You know you want to give CC "every cooperation." And the feeling is obviously mutual.
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  • Blue Blood: In the "industrial dynasty" sense of the word. Marc may put on a gruff, fighter-jock persona, but he comes from money—a great deal of very old money.
  • Body Horror: What debtors face if they can't pay the bills.
  • Continuous Decompression / Explosive Decompression: Trope averted. Work shown.
  • Cool Starship: The Rimrunner and Davidoff's space fighter.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: John, though he's more like a middle manager with aspirations.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: CC and John.
  • Distress Call: Vesta is saved by the man who was colluding with the aliens putting out a distress call to...the rest of the aliens, and getting the smugglers arrested.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Vesta Colony, essentially.
  • Evil Counterpart: John to CC. Having almost identical backstories, one would think they would be BFFs. Not so, mostly because John is an amoral backstabber who will do literally anything to climb the corporate ladder.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: It's theorized to be impossible, but Marc can still dream...
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: The aliens have essentially blackmailed the humans of Vesta into trade with them. They do get some cool tech out of the deal.
  • Harmless Freezing: Except for the fact that it allows peculators to siphon off your funds.
  • Higher-Tech Species
  • Human Resources: Pay your debts. That is all.
  • Human Popsicle: There are hundreds of humans frozen for various reasons in the story.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Davidoff, to the nth power. Mac, to a lesser degree.
  • Science Hero: CC uncovers a diabolical conspiracy...With Math!
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Nicely averted. Vesta-g is an asteroid, not a Baby Planet.
  • Shout-Out: Where do we start...
  • Shown Their Work: Vesta is described in loving and accurate detail.
  • Shipper on Deck: Margaret, though she's pretty subtle about it. Later on everyone gets in on the act.
  • Space Fighter: It seems like everyone in Earthserv is a pilot.
  • Space Marine: ...and they are all Marines for some reason, when Air Force or Navy would be equally, if not more logical.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Invoked by Marc, to yank CC's chain.
  • There Are No Therapists: Well, there are; they just work for The Man.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Seriously, who else but a compulsively detail-oriented financial analyst could have found the diabolical scheme buried in all those spreadsheets? And what other world-ending conspiracy could she possibly have averted with that skill set?
  • Tsundere: Poor repressed CC.
    He hadn't even tried to kiss her. Not that he should, seeing as she was engaged. And not that she wanted him to. But he hadn't even tried.
  • United Europe: Also we have The Americas and Eurasiazone.
  • Unusual User Interface: Having jacks in your wrist (or scars from their removal) is stigmata of the academic and administrative underclass, who need the efficiency and speed they offer. CC and John are both in deep debt to cover the scar-covering surgery. Also, some Earthserv pilots have neurocannulae to interface with their Space Fighters, but that's considered, well, really cool.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: A major internal inconsistency with this one. Early in the book, CC observes that there is near-universal employment on Vesta because human labor is cheaper than robot assistants; but later she admires how Margaret cleverly programs her party lighting to make up for the fact that human labor was at a premium. Wut??