Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Kris Longknife: Deserter by Mike Shepherd aka Mike Moscoe

Rating: WORTHY!

This author has a series of (as of this writing) fourteen novels with titles just like these - the main character's name, along with a single dramatic word which usually doesn't apply until late in the novel, and is never as bad as it seems. it's a series which, to read and enjoy, you need to turn off certain analytical parts of your brain, and take a very large grain of salt, and if you're willing to do that, you can enjoy some pretty good mindless entertainment from these.

In volume one Kris didn't become a mutineer until the last three dozen or so pages, and even then it was to prevent an illegal war being fomented by her captain. In this volume, she's on a week's leave, but is trapped on a planet by a quarantine and a communications blackout, so she isn't really deserting. She also gets an entourage and becomes a princess. How that works is a bit of a mystery. I guess the author didn't think an heroic naval lieutenant was quite special enough to write about.

Kristine Anne Longknife is the descendant of aged war heroes who are still alive because about four hundred years from now there will be longevity treatments (which probably explains why humanity has been forced to farm itself out to some six hundred planets, which are, of course, at odds with each other and forming shifting alliances). One of her 'grampas', named Ray, is promoted to king. I have no idea how that's supposed to work or why anyone in this society in this universe would do that, except of course to make Kris a princess and give her even more powers and privileges than she already has, being the trust-funded daughter of massive wealth.

It was in order to get out from under this yoke, so we're told, that she joined the navy, but nowhere did she ever eschew her money or family privilege, so her motives are rather suspect if not downright hypocritical. That said, however, the stories do make for a fast, fun read. I think the author set out to write movies in book form, evidently hoping that Hollywood would take notice, because that's how this series reads, and in this volume he even goes so far as to parody himself by having his characters remark, on more than one occasion, as to what would be happening if this were a movie. Chances are that you're either going to like this or hate it. I tend to pass over the annoying bits (such as the overly smart movie style wise-cracking in which the team indulges itself) without paying much attention, and slide right on by to the more entertaining pieces, which are common enough for me to be able to enjoy these volumes despite issues.

In this particular one, Kris gets a 'body servant' (named Abby) added to her entourage inexplicably by her mother! Please note that none of this seems intended to make any real sense. Prior to this, her only regular companion was her bodyguard, named predictably (and irritatingly) Jack, who is all but perfect. Fortunately, he does very little except pose and talk tough. He's not really there to guard her body, but for Kris to have someone to lust after secretly, and flirt with openly. While I flatly refuse to read any more novels which have name the lead character 'Jack', I do make occasional exceptions when there's a Jack who isn't the main character.

Abby has some sort of a secret agent background which is revealed later in the series, although it's obvious something oddball is going on pretty much as soon as she shows up. Jack doesn't follow Kris on her navy duties, but when she's off duty and at home. In this volume, her best friend Tommy, a weird amalgam of Chinese and Irish, who is actually neither in practice and who seems to be there solely in the role of maiden in distress, disappears and it's evident he's been kidnapped. It's also evident that this is a trap set up to get Kris, so naturally she goes anyway, and gets trapped when the planet is quarantined for Ebola(!) and the entire off-planet communications network breaks down so the planet is also isolated in that regard. The weird thing is that not a single spacecraft shows up to try and find out why this planet suddenly went dead! Despite how important Kris is, not a single person comes after her from her home planet, which is nonsensical.

Kris and her team rescue Tommy and hook up with Tommy's blossoming love interest, Penny. Kris gets to expose her bodily acreage (as she does in every volume) and blow things up, while fighting back against the bad guy and condescending the poor folks who live there. It's not great story-telling by any means, but it is entertaining if you don't take it seriously.

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