Review: Galaxy Blues by Allen Steele

Galaxy Blues by Allen Steele

Ace Books, 2008

This was an interesting book.  It’s a space opera adventure that reads in a very old school way.  The first person narrative, written like a memoir, combined with chapter headings that provide a summary of what will happen engender a feeling reminiscent of something out of a nineteenth century novel.  The plot is simple enough as spacer Jules Truffant seeks political asylum from the Union Astronautica in the Coyote Federation.  Managing to make his way to Coyote a bit of bad luck finds him in jail where he is scooped up by a corporate big whig to help in a delegation sent to open trade between humanity and the greater universe at large (i.e. aliens).  Jules luck doesn’t hold long though and he, and his fellow crewmates, find themselves in a rather trying, and dangerous, situation.

The scrappy and ‘barbaric’ humanity amidst the cosmopolitan and ‘civilized’ galactic society isn’t the most original plot element, it was used in Mass Effect recently, and the relationship between humanity and the alien hjadd is very similar to that of humans and the Vorlons from Babylon 5.  Familiar, but the humanity as intergalactic underdog element is still an interesting plot device that Steele uses well here.  Indeed Jules final confrontation with the arrogance of the elder aliens near the novel’s conclusion is evidence of a fairly original take on the concept.

This being my first experience with Steele’s Coyote universe I found the world of Coyote fairly interesting.  Steele manages to conjure an image of an old west frontier town with something out of Star Trek.  We don’t spend much time there though as the novel sticks with the action moving along at a rapid fire pace emphasized by short chapters and the clipped sparse narration of Jules.  Indeed given the first person perspective the novel focuses on Jules interactions and relationships with the people around him from the beutiful Rain to the enigmatic Ash.  The above lends a very intimate feel to the novel and, while it takes place within the same universe as Steele’s earlier trilogy, is self-contained and comes to a satisfying conclusion that leaves things open for more, but doesn’t necessitate them with any kind of dangling plot threads.

In the end this was a solid read, though a little slow to start.  Short and self-contained the novel doesn’t quite have the same ‘epic’ feel as other space operas but is, none-the-less, a rolicking adventure tale.  A solid B+ recommanded for Sci-fi fans looking for a lighter read or something to suggest to their non-genre reading friends.

Incoming!

I got a little busy at work, between filing a massive update to the NJAC (I hate being the newest hire!) and the NJLA Conference eating up my work day I have a bit of catching up to do.  However, I do have some reviews/commentary that are in the works.

I finished Alan Steele’s Galaxy Blues, which was an interesting sci-fi novel. I’m not sure I’d call it space opera, but it was certainly enjoyable.  A full review later.

I saw Macbeth at the Lyceum Theatre in New York on Tuesday with Patrick Stewart in the title role.  A great performance with absolutely fantastic production.  More on that later.

I managed to beat Crysis last weekend, I’ll have a more detailed commentary on that experience as well.  I’m still struggling to find the worth in Bioshock (no Flaming please!) and I *deep breath* find myself have to cheat to actually enjoy the experience.  I’ll stop myself before I start going into a detailed explanation of my problems with the game.  Being the two single-player first-person games I’ve been playing the most lately I will likely end up rolling into one big post….again.

Last but not least I plan on seeing Iron Man, if not tonight at least sometime this weekend, so expect a brief commentary.

I’ve got some bigger other plans for a bit later down the line.  Rick reviewed Worlds Collide by Apocalyptica  before I got a chance to so, rather than double up the reviews, I may post more on their overall discography, a feature I’d like to do some other bands as well (Avenged Sevenfold at the least).  I’ve also stayed mum about my impressions on the pending 4th Edition D&D heading out next month.  With the first adventure (and quick play rules) coming out late this month, expect some commentary in that direction as well.

Last but not least I gave up on the current reads that’ve been up for a while now.  Truthfully there is too much other good stuff out, or coming out, for me to go back and reread other things.  I’ll return to the Valente book at some point in the future, but my interests have been running almost purely towards the sci-fi as of late so I’ll probably stay with that kind of stuff for now.  As of today I’m about 50 pages into Ragamuffin by Tobias Buckell with Elizabeth Bear’s New Amsterdam and, hopefully, Gary Gibson’s Stealing Light down the line.

That’s it for now, keep an eye out for stuff sometime between tomorrow and Monday with more ahead.