Showing posts with label space opera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label space opera. Show all posts

Saturday, April 14, 2018

John Grimes: Rim Runner by A Bertram Chandler

Rating: WARTY!

This is not by The Bertram Chandler but by A Bertram Chandler, so beware of false authorship of sci-fi! Initially when I first saw this I thought the author's name was John Grimes. You know how those publishers and maybe authors like to promote the author as though she or he is the story? Well they're not. The story is the story, so I tend to be skeptical of novels which have a hugely-emblazoned author's name at the top and a tiny title at the bottom. This was not the case here, but in the end it made no difference.

Unfortunately, the novel was so trashy as to be awful. It felt like it was written in the fifties, whereas it was actually written a whole decade later! This is actually a collection of four stories written from '64 through '71. I didn't get past page 28 of the first of these, when John Grimes, rim runner (and that tediously overused sci-fi phrase is not meant in a sexual sense), having set his spacecraft on course, sat down with his senior officers and started smoking a pipe. I should never have read that far.

The warning signs were already in place. All the senior jobs were held by men, all the junior jobs by women. The only woman who wasn't in an inferior position was the female main character who was defined solely by her looks and so sexualized as to be unreal. In fact, I should have never got past the cover, but I don't hold authors accountable for their covers unless they self-publish. The cover in this case featured a tough-looking, rugged male in your usual overblown and impractical space cowboy outfit. He was, of course, holding the bigger gun; in fact, he had two guns! And hilariously, he's posed rigidly like a GI Joe doll. The frosty-faced woman was wearing the tight scarlet outfit with the scoop neck, the better to expose her cleavage. In yet another case of the cover artist having no clue whatsoever what's in the novel she was depicted as a brunette whereas the actual character is blond (of course).

This book is not to be missed; it's to be avoided like the plague. There are those who would say that you cannot hold a book written half a century ago to modern standards, but actually, yes, you can! And even if you can't, I will. I give it a hulk-sized thumbs-down.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Kris Longknife: Undaunted by Mike Shepherd aka Mike Moscoe

Rating: WARTY!

My attempt to get through all fourteen (or whatever it is) of the Kris Longknife (aka Mary Sue) series this year, continues apace. This here is volume seven of the series, so I'm half way through, but I can pretty much cut & paste my review from previous volumes since they all run along the same lines. Indeed, I routinely copy the title from a previous review, and simply change out the third word, and it seems like the review could follow that same sort of principle since the stories are typically so formulaic. This is one reason I am not a fan of series, but I think even the author was getting bored with himself since this one was rather different in some regards - but depressingly the same in others.

This departure made it interesting to me to begin with, but it went downhill pretty quickly. I don't know if the author couldn't flesh out a plot for his usual "the hapless Kris & crew stumble upon a remote planet which the rival Peterwald family is trying to take over, gets into bombings and firefights, wins over the local down-home populace with her self-deprecating style and comes out victorious," or what, but this one failed disastrously. There seemed to be no intelligence built into it at all. Kris meets the Iteeche. They refuse to talk to anyone but Kris's "Grampa Ray," despite the fact - we learn later - that channels have been kept open with the Iteeche! It all comes down to this impossible 'chance' meeting in remote space between the 'son' of the Iteeche leader and the daughter of the Human leader? It's not remotely credible.

From the point onward, the story meanders pointlessly. The aliens, which the author makes a valiant attempt at rendering them alien initially, turn out to be exactly like humans in everything but physical appearance. They're more like centaurs with beaks and extra arms, yet they're purportedly descended from an aquatic species. And despite this, Kris finds herself physically attracted to the leader? What?!!! The Iteeche young are spawned in shallow saltwater and left to the mercy of predators, until they're later "chosen" by an adult to raise to adulthood. These then become 'family'.

This makes zero sense from a biological and evolutionary perspective. No organism on this planet, least of all the sentient ones (and with an odd exception or two such as the cuckoo), grow and raise young in this manner. It couldn't work for a truly human-like species, notwithstanding the fact that humans have historically adopted children here and there. I'm talking about biological evolution here, not culture.

It's a sad fact that Americans are really poor at science and it's also a fact, in my opinion, that we'd get better sci-fi if we had a better science education, but given that the US reading audience is just as poorly educated about science as far-too-many sci-fi writers are, I guess it doesn't really matter in the final analysis, does it?! Except that we'd get far better and more compelling and engrossing stories if this sorry state of affairs was rectified. There's a quiz at the link. I got 100%, which surprised me, because I thought I might have missed at least one question, but at least now I can say I know what I'm in the top 6% and I know what I'm talking about! LOL!

Back to the novel in progress. Instead of getting Ron directly to King Ray, the perennial Lieutenant Kris meanders through space to visit her "aunt" Trudy because of problems she's been having with her personal computer, Nelly, which are never actually resolved. Far from it. Instead of fixing it, Nelly buys computers for the closest people in Kris's retinue, so the problems of one computer are now exacerbated several-fold. Only then, when Kris has her personal needs taken care of, does she get back to the diplomatic mission and they go visit King Ray, who offers them nothing whatsoever, so off they trot into space. Kris never stays on the ground.

Instead of going off investigating the Iteeche disappearance problem, she calls in at a planet named Texarkana which is based on American (surprise!) interests and which has a city folk v. country folk mentality. Yawn. Kris gets blown up, the bad guys are captured in short order, Kris's millions open a bank and the local problem is solved. Everybody loves Kris-who-can-do-no-wrong. Boring.

This one was different in that the usual bombing/firefight was merely an end-note to the main story which was the discovery of the Iteeche in "no man's land" space between the human and the Iteeche empires. Of course Kris does everything right and befriends them even though the evil Peterwald contingent is trying to shoot the crap out of them. This was interesting to me because in every volume the evil Iteeche are mentioned, yet we learn literally nothing of them. There was a huge war eighty years previously, documented in a previous series by this author. I have no interest in reading that. Here we learn something about them, and it turns out that there's something the Iteeche have discovered with which they need human help. I found this a bit too incredible to believe.

The Iteeche have lost three scout ships in a certain part of remote space they were trying to colonize. It would seem like this story would lead to an investigation, but it doesn't - it's merely a cliff-hanger for a subsequent volume in the series, which means there isn't really a story here. This volume is more of a place holder while the author actually thought up a plot for the next volume. It leads to Kris transporting the Iteeche to Wardhaven so the leader - who is known as Ron - can meet with Kris's grandfather, the elected king (don't even ask; Kris is a princess, but her brother isn't a prince?!) of the United Sentients - named that way so the author, who is as gingoistic an American as ever lived, can name his warships the 'US Whatever'. They did the same thing is Star Trek which despite the fiction that it's an all-inclusive united federation of planets, is really American from root to core to stem to bloom. Despite the fact that the United Sentients are supposed to be descendants of the entire planet Earth's population, we only ever really meet white southern Americans with patriotic values and guns.

Then Kris takes the Iteeche back to her own planet and then back again out into space. Huh? We get the usual 'everyone disses Kris and she doesn't even react any more', yet the same people who diss her are utterly devoted to her safety and welfare. Despite having been in firefights and bombings. Kris routinely tries to slip her marine guard and personal body-guard, Jack (the tediously trope-ishly named jack). This is how she gets blown up. She's a moron here.

The marines are incessantly praised as the ultimate mean, tough, disciplined, incapable of failure fighting force, and the reader is constantly hit in the face with this ad nauseam. The author is completely in love with the phrase 'full battle rattle' to the point where it's a mantra chanted endlessly - again, tedious. The author repeats tired old military phrases and similies like they're fresh and new (such as 'no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy') and like the reader has never heard them before - and in this same series.

In addition to this there's the same nonsensical crap about interstellar trade, which is farcical. Yes, even with jump points that allow ships to bypass light-years of space, it is still not economical to transport trade items unless they're desperately-needed items that cannot be grown or fabricated locally, or very expensive items such that the transportation coasts are more than made up for in sale price. No one is going to be transporting weapons or tractors, unless a planet is freshly being colonized. So, yes, I've let more than one volume in this series slip past as a worthy read, but this one I cannot. It was less than it ever should have been and simply not worth reading. I will contend right here that you can skip this one altogether and move to the next in the series without missing anything of import or utility.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Kris Longknife: Audacious by Mike Shepherd aka Mike Moscoe

Rating: WORTHY!

Another close-run thing, but hopefully this now will all change from here on out. Princess Lieutenant Kris Longknife continues on her usual trajectory, inexplicably and unexpectedly (believe it or not) getting shot at, fawning over the navy and the marines, and venerating certain old people as though each is some sort of a magical sensei, but it's entertaining and perversely addictive. I guess that's how most series suck people in.

In this episode, for the fourth time, she's sent to the middle of nowhere with no instructions and has an almost impossible conundrum to solve while running for her life. she's dispatched to planet Eden, which has strict gun control laws - purportedly - where she's promptly shot at, and almost blown up by a bomb which wasn't even meant for her. The news outlets are so controlled that they don't even report these things. It's like they never happened. It's 1984 meets the Soviet Union, with Kris Longknife emulating James Bond charging in there to inevitably and successfully sort them all out.

She was told this would be an easy job, in a quiet backwater, which would keep her out of trouble and out of the headlines. Given that this is the fourth time she's been dispatched to a backwater like this, you'd think by now she would not be so naïve. Indeed, you'd think that she would be angry as hell at this point, but inexplicably, she isn't! Not until the entire novel is over. This is more of the same and it was becoming rather tiresome even for me. There were enough differences, however, and I did check my brain at the door as I advise you to do, and this will make it a simple and easy summer read. Not that it's summer yet but it sure feels like it here. Hopefully with the changes Kris demands at the end of this one (she's not too quick on the uptake at times) things will improve in the next volume, which I've read before, but can scarcely remember a thing about. That should tell me something, huh?!

Kris Longknife: Resolute by Mike Shepherd aka Mike Moscoe

Rating: WORTHY!

This one just made it under the wire into worthy, but check your brain at the door - it's mindless entertainment. Yet again Kris is shipped off to the butt-end of nowhere where she's dumped into a complete mess, gets no support, is threatened and shot at and/or starts a space battle with interloping rivals, wins it on a shoestring and heads home. I don't know why this series is so addictive, because I find plot holes and problems galore with it, but I still keep reading it. Normally I would never do this, but I guess we all have to have a guilty pleasure hidden away somewhere, and I suppose this particular one, sad as it is, is mine.

Despite having proven herself a capable commander, Kris is still stuck as a lieutenant, yet even so, she's put in command of a space station orbiting an unaligned planet which would just as rather not have the station there as have it. The problem is that the station is shut down, and Kris has to reboot it. The totally odd thing is that she makes no effort whatsoever to report this status to base, and no effort to request personnel to run the station. She simply tries to make do with volunteers from the planet below. No idea why. I guess she's a really poor administrator.

This struck me as utterly absurd, but nowhere near as absurd as a space station which makes no sense. It costs a fortune to run, supply, and to maintain, yet here they are up-keeping it when it serves absolutely no practical purpose at all. There's literally nothing it does that cannot be done by shuttles or robots. In four hundred years, the entire human race seems to have forgotten about drones and robots despite having AIs with human-level intelligence and far faster processing speed. I think the Longknifes have far more to worry about than evil humans. They just don't know it yet! The previous commander got pissed off with the navy and abandoned the station without telling anyone and without waiting for Kris to arrive to hand it over to her. Yet he goes unpunished for this. No wonder Kris loves the Navy - you can get away with anything as she herself has proved on several occasions!

The planet is named Hicksville - not really, but that's how it comes across - and the mayor of course has the hots for Kris. She spreads her money around and makes all kinds of friends, so that when Hank Smythe-Peterwald, sometime beau and now arch-enema, arrives with six cruisers in tow, obviously intent upon taking over yet another planet for his father. Instead of calling immediately for help, Kris takes him on with brown paper and glue, and lollipop sticks, and in a repeat performance of her destruction of the Peterwald Stealth navy attack on War(d)haven, her home planet, kicks Hanks ass predictably.

Hank was becoming boring and the romance with Kris was going nowhere, so the author disposes of him by having him become insane and having some anonymous person sabotage his escape pod, where he suffocates. This is so he can introduced the non-existent Vicki Peterwald (yes, she's female but she's still a Peterwald, not a Petrawald, a Pipkinwald). At least she was non-existent until he realized Hank was going nowhere, so she materializes out of nowhere in the next volume and changes the dynamic. And also provides for the start a side series featuring her rampant exploits.

All in all a blustery light-weight beach read, but not bad if, as I advise, you check your brain at the door. On that basis and that basis alone, I recommend it as a worthy sci-fi read.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Kris Longknife: Defiant by Mike Shepherd aka Mike Moscoe

Rating: WORTHY!

It's at this point - volume three - where you fully realize how formulaic this series is, and you have to decide decide whether to keep going. I obviously kept going, but please be warned that there are several stock elements in this series which, if you don't like them, or worse, start to hate them, will drive you nuts, and they're all overdone here, having only been half-baked in volume one.

The first is Kris's non-existent relationship with Jack, her bodyguard. He continues to snipe at Kris's disregard for safety and she continues to ignore him. This goes on in every volume. It's boring. Largely absent and not really missed in this volume is Abby, Kris's ridiculously home-spun and sassy 'body maid' who showed up in volume two. There's nothing for her to do besides be a repository for weapons and armor, and she's not needed at all in this volume which - be warned - is almost entirely concerned with the overly long preparation for - and then the speedy execution of - a one-sided space battle. In that regard, it's different from most of the other volumes in the series.

Penny and Tom get married, and then it's all up to space to defend Wardhaven against six anonymous battleships which have entered Wardhaven space, are headed directly for the planet, and are refusing to identify themselves. Despite them being identified early on as representatives of the Peterwald business enemies of the Longknifes, the Longknifes - supposedly the essence of bravado - are too chickenshit to call out Peterwald on it, and worse than this, they fail to take any precautions, thereby putting Kris into deep jeopardy again in the succeeding volume. The Longknifes are morons, let's face it!

One final problem: any modern planet with the apparently endless resources available to the Longknifes, would have an array of space drones which would take out any line-of-battle ship on short order. That's why we no longer have battleships in the real navy. The last one was built over seventy years ago. Evidently authors like Mike Shepherd and David Weber simply don't get it. Neither do film makers like George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry!

So after a condescending sojourn on a planet modeled after Hawaii (seriously? 200-some nations on Earth, six hundred planets in space in this novel, and yet every single one of them is influenced and informed solely by by the US culture?), Kris returns to Wardhaven just in time to be the only one who can save the day! As per usual. She takes command - not as a naval officer, but as a princess! - and cobbles together an assortment of space yachts and LACs, and repels the battleships miraculously and pretty much effortlessly. Yet despite this tour de farce no one ever learns from it, ditches the navy, and starts building thousands of cheap, human-free drones for defense. Go figure!

That said, this was an entertaining romp if you check you brain at the cover and don't put it back on until the last page is done. On that basis and that one alone, I recommend this as part of a complete series that's light, fun, mostly fast-moving, and a worthy read. Think of it as a TV series like Charlie's Angels rather than a series of novels, and you'll be able to better judge whether you can stand to read it or not.

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.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Kris Longknife: Mutineer by Mike Shepherd aka Mike Moscoe

Rating: WORTHY!

I've read many of this series, which is a follow-on to an earlier series about a different generation of the Longknife family, and one which I haven't read. I fell in love with the Kris Longknife novels, and read them avidly, but this was before I blogged reviews. My plan this year is to read the entire series, including two or three volumes I've acquired more recently, but not yet read. I'll be doing at least one per month, and posting a review for each one. I'll probably blow through this series rather quickly if the time it took me to get through the first novel is any gauge! For me they're very readable, despite an issue or two I had with them. I think it helps to go into this thinking of it more as a movie than a novel, because it reads like a movie script that's been fleshed out into a novel more than it reads like a novel that's written in the hope it might make a movie someday.

The first volume introduces a new member of the Longknife family: Kristine, who has recently joined the navy, which of course in this case is the space navy. I have to say this makes little sense to me, although it is a trope which pervades virtually all space operas that have a significant military component. I was surprised to discover that there's rather more of the David Weber touch in the Longknife novels than I remember from the first time I read them - and I don't mean that in a complimentary way, although I was a fan of Weber for a while.

Like in Weber's novels, the space fleet is very much a branch of the navy, a tired cliché in which far too many sci-fi writers indulge. They have fleets of ships which seem constrained by the maneuvering capabilities of sail ships from Georgian times, cavorting on a two dimensional ocean, rather than powerful craft traversing a three dimensional vacuum. I know a lot of sci-fi readers love it when authors gaze into their naval, but I don't. To me this approach is short-sighted, uninventive, and rather a lazy way of writing. It's also very Americanized. It's the US (although in this case named United Sentients, which is really clunky!) navy, not any other navy, despite the supposed homogenization of assorted planets, including Earth. In this case it's not even Earth, but an entirely different planet, yet these are American writers who can't seem to avoid Americanisms, American bureaucracy, and American historical references. There's even a reference to radio Shack! That's like a contemporary novel referencing a store form medieval times. It's rather blinkered and too often smacks of jingoism.

In the sixties, and after a rocky start, the US became without question the leader in space travel and technology, but that impressive lead bled dry over the next four decades. Now it's the Russians and the Chinese who are, if not exactly blazing trails, at least riding them, while the US sits without any means to put people into space. Even private industry is taking over, and after filling the astronaut ranks with white male military personnel, the diversity amongst astronauts is increasing significantly. Satellites aside, there is no military presence in space, so whence this impetus to have space navies in the future? Whence the sad bureaucracy which accompanies it?

Out of curiosity, I looked up the original seven Mercury astronauts, thinking they were largely air force personnel. As it happens only three were air force per se. Another three were navy, and the final one was a marine, but with one exception, all of them were primarily aviators. Even the exception, while beginning his career as a regular Navy officer, moved into aviation, so none of them were traditional navy personnel in the old fashioned sense. This was primarily a flying exercise not a naval exercise, yet now we're awash with navy references in sci-fi space operas. How weird is that?

I know that David Weber deliberately set out to replicate the Horatio Hornblower novels, which provides a root cause at least, if not exactly an explanation for his tedious by-rote naval parallels, but why anyone else would choose to go that route is a mystery and a disappointment to me. I honestly wonder why spacecraft are referred to as ships rather than as some sort of flying machine? Naturally they're not airplanes, since there's no air in space, but there's no water either, so why ships? Is it for no other reason than that they're simply larger than any airplane? Ships were what we had before airplanes, so even the pilot is a captain, but he's still a pilot! I guess old habits are really hard to break, and people don't like to think of large aircraft as anything other than ships.

Even if we let that go, there's still the bureaucracy. Shepherd employs the same US bureaucratic and stagnated institutions which Weber uses: Bureau of Personnel, which he refers to as BuPer(s), just as David Weber does. There are other such bureaus. too, such as BuShips, and so on. It's tedious and unrealistic. I think Elizabeth Moon does a far more realistic job in her Vatta's War pentalogy, which I recommend, and will also get around to reviewing at some point. I have mixed feelings about the Star Trek universe, but I think they got it right - or at least closer to right than too many sci-fi authors manage. Yes, they still start with the captain and descend through all the other such naval ranks, but the ships are not primarily 'war ships' - not the ones featured in the series. They're spacecraft of exploration so we don't get the same bureaucratic tedium and military saber-rattling in which other stories wallow.

That said, let's set it aside and get on with a look at the story itself, because the nicest thing about this series is that it isn't a space-naval-opera. I understand in the early editions of this book there were misspellings and grammar issues galore. In the paperback I read there were very, very few. Kris is a navy ensign, and she's depicted in some scenes aboard the navy craft, but most of this first story finds her on the surface of one of three planets. We meet her as she's leading a mission to rescue a kidnapped girl, and the mission almost falls apart. It is Kris's expert flying skills which save the mission.

This brief introduction in the first few chapters puts her head above the radar when it comes to another mission - to go to a water-logged planet and distribute food. This occupies the bulk of the novel but by no means all of it, and some of it makes no sense. We're told that a huge volcanic eruption had clouded the sky, and continual torrential downpours are washing out crops and roads. We never do learn how it manages to be raining the entire time she's there. With that much rain, the ash and soot would be gone from the sky in short order and the rain would stop!

A better question is where is this rain coming from? If the rainfall is planet wide, then where is the water being evaporated to feed the continual rain? If there's a clear sky somewhere else, then why not move the people there? If they're moving equipment off planet because the acid rain damaging it, then it's going to be damaging the soil. People need to be evacuated off planet too!

I read a lot of negative reviews on this to see if I needed to take into account anything my positive outlook had not covered, and I failed to find any. A lot of the reviews mentioned inconsistencies and logic problems but not a single one of them detailed any! That's not a review it's just a complaint! Maybe these reviewers had a case, but if they did, they failed to make it. This is why I got into reviewing in the first place - to write more useful reviews and to discuss author technique and general writing style. Yes, there are problems with every book - plot inconsistencies and issues, which I highlight, but the issue isn't whether there are any (it's fiction, so there always are), but whether those problems and issues spoil the. For me they did not. This doesn't mean a book is perfect. None are, but the bottom line is whether the novel overall is worth reading. For me, it was. I enjoyed the story and the characters.

The book blurb is completely wrong in one regard. It says, "...she enlists in the marines" and she does not. She's in the navy. This is one excellent reason to ditch Big Publishing™ they're utterly clueless. The people who illustrate the cover and write the blurbs are usually in shameful ignorance of the actual content of the book since they've never read it. They're "just doing what they're told" which is pathetic and no excuse whatsoever.

I noted that some reviewers have chided this because it doesn't take place in space (at least not as much as they think it should), but it's not set in space per se. It's just a futuristic action-adventure story. I think those reviewers went into it after reading David Weber's Honor Harrington series. There is no rule that says this has to be a space opera, although in parts it read like one. I've also seen Mike Shepherd accused of trying to emulate David Weber, and while he does appear to mimic Weber for some of the space scenes and background military story, so does every author, as does Weber. To me, that stuff is boring, which is why I quit reading the Weber series. it started out well but went into the toilet.

Shepherd emulates him with regard to the space conflicts, but any story about a navy, on the ocean or in space, is going to be the same in many regards since most writers really aren't that original, but just because there are parallels doesn't mean the story is a copy. With regard to Weber v. Shepherd, Shepherd's background is the Navy, whereas Weber's is in games and sci-fi literature, so I'd give Shepherd precedence for knowing the navy! At least Shepherd isn't rooted in the nineteenth century as Weber is, which is patently absurd! That said, he could have done a lot better, because his "naval battles" are far too rooted in the same problems that Weber's are - battle ships in 2D on an ocean, not spacecraft in a 3D vacuum. he makes the same mistake that Weber does with regard to a complete lack of robots and drones. Any navy which sought to conduct itself as Weber's and Shepherd's navies do would get it's ass kicked royally by a realistic navy four hundred years into the future!

Kris is possibly an alcoholic. It's a mess and it's hard to decide if she really was one, or just a teen who drank too much. I suspect it was the latter, which excuses Shepherd in the way he addresses Kris's sobriety and her behavior around alcohol. On this same issue of Kris's personal problems, the stress on her tragically kidnapped brother is rather overdone. I can see it at the beginning, where she's in process of freeing a kidnapped child, but her feelings seem to be far too raw to be left from a decade or more ago. Military training doesn't seem to have helped. Novel might have done better had it skipped the large central section on Flooded planet, and instead follow Kris through basic training where she could have worked through her issues. That said, her Eddy fixation is really only dwelt on this rescue mission, so naturally her thoughts are with her brother then. Later, she's far less preoccupied by his, and this to me seemed realistic.

So none of this made sense, and the phrase "one of those Longknifes" is way-the-hell overused in this series, but the story wasn't so ridiculous that I could simply not stand to read it. I liked the story and went with the flow - literally in this section! I liked the way Kris was depicted here. She slowly grew into her shoes. She was no Mary Sue and she made mistakes, but she was smart and figured things out in her own way. She had a good attitude and a can-do sense of mission, and she sorted the place out in her own way. You'd think this part was the big story, but it was what happened after this which shows us why the novel is titled Kris Longknife: Mutineer, and again it's down to her smarts and quick thinking.

Despite some issues, the story was eminently readable because it was a good story. It held my interest, made me willing to overlook some issues, and it rather subtly laid some groundwork for a sequel, without hitting the reader over the head or leaving them in the slimy grip of a cliffhanger. Despite issues and personal preferences, I recommend this novel as a worthy read.