A Fresh, New, Classic Space Opera Takes Off!
Ethan Walker is the captain of a freighter carrying a bunch of tech to a colony. He has a friendly crew, people like his co-pilot Nuko Takata and the AI, Marti. But not all onboard the Olympus Dawn are as amenable. Ethan has to deal with two very difficult passengers and Leigh Salazar, the Cargo Compliance Controller who is not a member of the crew but there to supervise the cargo for the shipping company and ensure it arrives intact. When they reach Starlight colony and find no one replying to their communication, Ethan goes down to discover why and finds himself at the centre of a major incident.
What I Particularly Enjoyed.
The atmosphere. This book has a really great space opera feel. It’s there with shades of Star Trek and Farscape, but firmly rooted in a harder sci-fi tradition. Shipboard life and relationships are very well described.
The worldbuilding. It is very easy to slip into this world and pick up on the setting. The tech-base is well explained and when it has to pass beyond that we have ‘alien tech’ as the explanation.
The AI. I am not a big fan of AIs as characters as I seldom find them convincingly portrayed, but the author really sold me on Marti. I loved the idea of an AI being paid like any other crew member and using their pay to buy robot bodies of various kinds and upgrades for them.
The writing style. Smooth and flowing. I was never bounced out of immersion by a poorly chosen word or a clumsy construction.
What I Kind of Struggled With.
Leigh Salazar. The sole role of this character seemed to be for setting up conflict. Most of the time I could buy it, but as the story went on she seemed to lose all sense of proportion.
The job threat. That Ethan could lose his job was, I felt, over repeated and overplayed. I couldn’t see how it really counted for anything set against the far more crushingly existential issues faced by himself and the crew.
I loved this book, the setting the characters and the sense of something huge coming down the line. It is a five-star classic space opera and those who love all that should pick this up right away.
Full disclosure, this book is not at all my usual fare and I approached it with some trepidation. But as it turned out I need not have worried. Although ‘hard’ science fiction is a foreign country to me Eric Michael Craig has an easy writing style, and his avoidance of jargon makes this story accessible and readable even for a Luddite.
We are presented with a cargo freighter on its way to make a routine delivery – that turns out to be far from routine. Where have a hundred thousand people gone? Captain Ethan Walker finds himself in the middle of a perfect sh**storm.
As an exploration of what an ordinary man does in an extraordinary situation the book works well, although, for me, it is less convincing in its handling of relationships.
A resounding four stars and a safe recommendation.