Impulse by Dave Bara is very much an old-school space opera. The novel’s hero Lieutenant Cochrane is also a member of a landed gentry class and in line for the throne; competent and capable Cochrane is thrust into the unexpected when an attack on a lightship kills his girlfriend along with many of his friends. Taken from his expected duty and assigned to the titular Impulse, the very same ship that was attacked, Cochrane sets off to investigate who that mysterious attacker might have been. Bara tosses a bit of romance into the mix as Cochrane meets the Impulse’s stern and attractive Executive Officer and complicates things further when he later meets an insanely competent and attractive “alien” (isolated human) Princess. There are shades of Asimov’s Foundation as the technology employed by the Unified Space Navy is doled out (on an as needed basis) by enigmatic Historians from Earth. The world building is light and the novel manages to engender both the feel of old-school nautical adventure and old-school science fiction adventure at the same time. This isn’t by any means a perfect read, I often found some of the history hinted at in the novel more interesting than the main thrust of the narrative and the novel leans heavy on the opera in space opera but it is at the least a highly entertaining read. If you’re looking for a novel of high adventure and high emotion than Impulse by Dave Bara might be worth a shot.
The Sagittarius Command (Tour of Merrimack #3)
R. M. Meluch
Having previously read both The Myriad and The Wolf Star I jumped at reading R. M. Meluch’s The Sagittarius Command, the third book in The Tour of Merrimack, only to be stymied by its odd ebook formatting. I eventually came back to the title and powered through the short sentences and short paragraphs and as I suspected found the book as enjoyable as its predecessors. The Sagittarius Command picks up not too long after The Wolf Star with Captain Farragut having accepted the surrender of Roman Emperor and the threat of the Hive swarms bearing down on humanity. Earth and Palatine now find themselves uneasy, to put it quite mildly, allies against this new greater threat.
Into the Black: Odyssey One
Evan Currie, read by Benjamin Darcie
Brilliance Audio, 2012
Evan Currie’s military science fiction space opera novel Into the Black: Odyssey One, originally self-published, was released by Amazon’s new imprint 47north back in March. The novel centers around the exploration crew of the titular Odyssey One, Earth’s first interstellar spaceship, as they embark on the first manned journey beyond the bounds of the Milky Way. The discovery of the new Transition Drive and the creation of the Odyssey One finally saw the end to a decades long war. Of course it isn’t long into this journey that the Odyssey stumbles into a new and more dangerous threat, and that is where the novel’s story truly kicks off.
Blue Remembered Earth
Alistair Reynolds, known for his massive doorstopping space operas full of characters and packed to physics-defying density with ridiculously cool ideas, makes a jump to something a little more grounded in his most recent novel Blue Remembered Earth. While it too is packed full of ideas it offers them up on a narrower scope instead focusing on the legacy of a single family rather than the galaxy spanning multi-generational interwoven epic of his Revelation Space books. That narrowing of context and the grounding of the plot along a single family line make Blue Remembered Earth, all 512 pages of it, a positively breezy read.
Count to a Trillion
John C. Wright
Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright is the first in a new transhumanist space opera series. The novel follows Menelaus Montrose, resident of the war ravaged Texus and a lawyer (disputes are arbited via pistol duels so there is very little traditional law infvolved) as well as a math genius. Montrose is recurited for a space mission to investigate a mysterious alien monolith. It is on this mission that Montrose believing that only a scientifically accelerated mind, a posthuman mind, can decipher the artifact injects himself with a specially developed serum designed to unlock his mind’s true potential. Driven mad by the process Montrose awakens almost two centuries later to a world vastly different from the one he knew.
James S.A. Corey
When I finally purchased The Dragon’s Path on my e-reader of choice I was pleasantly surprised (that is an egregious understatement) to note that it included a free advance copy of Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). Advance advance buzz, the bare whisperings often heard by those of us who stalk books on the web, was that this was going to be old school type space opera. Of course the truth is even better because not only is this old school space opera but it is also a little bit hardboiled detective fiction. Believe it or not but for this reader things only got better from there.
The Lost Fleet: Dauntless
Audible Frontiers, 2008
Audible Frontiers has so far done a bang up job of producing accessible and quality productions of recent and classic science fiction and fantasy works and their release of Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet: Dauntless is no exception. One of my favorite things so far is that they often include an introductory note by the author (true for this audiobook and for Mike Resnick’s Starship series) that give a little bit of background information on how the title came about and some of the thematic notions that spurred the authors into writing what they did. For Dauntless, Campbell explains that one of his inspirations were the notion of ancient heroes and particularly the Ten Thousand. In terms of the former Campbell focuses his attention on John “Blackjack” Geary. Geary, who secured a victory in the opening phases of war with the Syndicate was subsequently believed dead. Flash ahead a century or so and the novel opens with Geary, whose cryochamber has recently been discovered finds himself struggling to adjust to living again. Of course it’s more than that as those hundred plus years have served to transform what was a simple desperate battle for survival on Geary’s part into something much more mythic and turning the man into a legendary hero. Continue reading “Review: Dauntless (Lost Fleet) by Jack Campbell (audio)”
Mission of Honor
Mission of Honor marks David Weber’s twelth main entry into the Honorverse as it’s known amongst fans; though it is in truth a follow up to Storm from the Shadows; which Baen is marketing as a Disciples of Honor novel. Mission of Honor returns the titular character to the forefront though the sprawling events of the novel indicate that Weber’s Honorverse has become increasingly informed by his work on the Safehold series; a fact that is something of a double-edged sword. Some spoilery summary occurs after the jump so skip the next paragraph if you haven’t read the previous books.
Heretics (Apotheosis: Book 2)
S. Andrew Swann
Heretics is the sequel to 2009’s Prophets and is the second book of the Apotheosis series. It picks up with events mere minutes after the previous volume though Swann uses the early section of the novel to bring readers somewhat up to speed, at leave when it comes to the bare bones of the plot from the first book. The AI known as Adam has finally revealed himself and has begun his quest to “save” humanity by absorbing them into the collection of nanobots that comprise his physical existence. The crew of the Eclipse, hired by the now dead AI Mosasa to discover what happened to a missing star, has been either captured by agents of the Caliphate or stranded on the planet Salmagundi below. Elsewhere a soldier left to watch over a seldom-used wormhole is confronted by a strange occurrence that reveals a threat to the galaxy at large.
Up Jim River
First Line: This is her song, but she will not sing it, and so that task must fall to lesser lips.
Up Jim River is the sequel to Flynn’s 2008 novel The January Dancer (review), picking up almost immediately at where the first novel left off. Where The January Dancer was written as a story being told, sort of an extended flashback with brief interludes in the here and now, Up Jim River takes place entirely in the present. If you haven’t read The January Dancer you really ought to stop now and go ahead and do that. These are two books that are part of one story and reading one without first reading the other will not only deprive you of essential information but deny you the chance to experience Flynn’s masterful use of language from the start. Like The January Dancer before it Up Jim River uses a very poetic style that is more reminiscent of a fantasy novel rather than a futuristic space adventure. However where The January Dancer’s narrative style occasionally bogged down the plot Up Jim River maintains a laser focus on the here and now telling a tighter story, with deeper characterization, and without sacrificing any of the linguistic wonder that Flynn so easily captures.