Thursday, May 19, 2016

Space Opera Redux

Brief Review: The Counterfeit Captain by Henry Vogel

Captain Nancy Martin expects a lonely death, passing out as her battle-damaged starfighter bleeds the last of its air.

From the first words of its description, this novel's posting on Kindle Scout captured me. After I purchased it, and began to read, I was not disappointed. This is an honest-to-goodness old-school space opera, complete with a Clarke-ian kilometers-long colony ship, Dalek-like evil robots driven by a scheming AI, space pirates and mutineers, enslaved children, primitive cargo-cult villages of humans who think their Ship is the world, and a running battle fought with lasers, blasters and bow-and-arrow through dark passages lined with blinking lights and shadowy machines. There's even a strong modern woman/strong primitive man romance, with a tasteful off-screen consummation.

Hard to imagine that all those elements can come together into an elegant and focused science fiction story, but in a little over 200 pages, it does. Furthermore, it feels fresh and exciting even while it rings all those well-known bells. I enjoyed it from word one, and closed the book on the ending thinking, I wish there was a promise of a sequel.

 Unfortunately, The End... Or Is It? might be the only trope missing from the novel.