I haven’t been posting regularly for the past few months, as I wound down my last job and then drove back and forth across the country for job interviews. It’s been fatiguing, but allowed me to burn through some audiobooks. I’ll run through a few of them here, but I’m leaving out others, either because they weren’t sci-fi (I burned through some nonfiction and a mystery I had bought for my parents) or because they’ll fit into a future series of posts I’m planning.
I listened to the latest book in the main series of Galaxy’s Edge, Retribution. It’s getting harder and harder to say anything about these books without spoiling earlier books, but I will say that two political/military conflicts which I expected to provide the background for many future books were completely wrapped up. Some major characters were also killed in the climactic final battle. It’s looking like the next book in the series might go in an unexpected new direction. You can read my dumpster fire post about the series, and my second post about the series, which also covers the first two books in the “Order of the Centurion” series of standalone stories set in the Galaxy’s Edge universe. There are three new Order of the Centurion novels out (which I haven’t gotten to yet), but they seem to be exclusively audiobooks, so those of you who read with your eyeballs may be out of luck.
I also listened to To Clear Away the Shadows, the latest book (#13) in the RCN series. I blogged about the first 12 books in the series last year. The main characters from the first eleven books only made a cameo appearance in book twelve, and are completely missing from book thirteen — I guess the author just grew tired of them, although I didn’t.
The story structure of this novel also leaves behind the pattern from the first eleven books, which each built gradually to a climax. Instead, there are several smaller crises, each of which is wrapped up independently and doesn’t really lead to the others. One of the main characters is kidnapped by a criminal/political gang. The other character gets stranded in a jungle full of cannibals (at least he thinks there are cannibals, there may not have been). A volcano blows up, covering a city in ash.
The plots of each of these mini-crises were tied up neatly, but I felt they were – I started to say inconclusive, but that’s not quite right – unsatisfying. I didn’t get the sense that the setting would change very much based on the actions of the characters. In the early books of the series, the characters would start a coup or prevent a coup, changing the government of an entire planet, or drive an enemy fleet away from a group of planets, preventing them from being occupied. I missed those larger stakes.
This novel is a standalone set in the same universe as the earlier books, but I’m not sure that someone who picked this up as their first experience in the series would be motivated to continue. I’m wrapped up in the worldbuilding of the RCN universe, so I’ll probably keep reading as long as the author keeps writing.
I was on the fence about whether to listen to Will Save the Galaxy for Food, but I’m really glad I did. I had a 12 hour nighttime drive (after a full day’s schedule, and a losing battle against insomnia the night before) in order to make it to yet another interview. This story kept me engaged and awake.
It’s a science-fiction story with a lot of goofy humor, reminding me a bit of one of my favorite series, Hard Luck Hank. (BTW, there’s a new Hard Luck Hank book out, Dumber Than Dead. I’m saving it for a time when I really need a pick-me-up.)
The main character of “Will Save the Galaxy for Food” is a star pilot, but the golden age of star piloting, when dashing young pilots zipped around the galaxy saving planets from a borg-style horde of cyborgs, is over. Now, most of the pilots stand around the Lunar starport holding cardboard signs offering flights to tourists. This shift in their circumstances, from glorious heroes to nuisance hustlers, really resonated with me — don’t ask why.
There are several plot twists to the story which are fairly obvious, but I think that’s intentional, so the reader can laugh at the main character stepping in it. I enjoyed the story enough that I’ll probably check out one of his other novels, like the LitRPG story Mogworld or the urban fantasy Differently Morphous. I’d have to like those quite a bit to try out his other novel, about a strawberry jam apocalypse (??).
Drop me a comment if you’ve read any of these, or think you might try them out. I’m hoping to get back to a more regular posting schedule in the future.