Fiction Reviews


The Castle in Cassiopeia

(2017) Mike Resnick, Pyr, £8.99 / Can$11.99 / US$9.99, pbk, 300pp, ISBN 978-1-633-88231-7

 

The Castle in Cassiopeia is the latest book by Mike Resnick. Itís part of his ĎDead Endersí series, which follows the adventures of a team of neíer-do-well adventurers in the far future, where thereís conflict between the Democracy and the Coalition.

In a previous novel, the Dead Enders kidnapped General Michkag, chief of the Coalition and replaced him with a clone trained to lead his people to defeat. Unfortunately, the clone likes his new job and changes sides. Now the Dead Enders have to find him and take him out. A tough call, given that he is surrounded by legions of fanatically dedicated troops.

Essentially itís the dirty dozen in space, elite special forces against ridiculously overwhelming odds. Iíve always been a fan of this kind of military SF. Whether itís Hammers Slammers, The Hour of the Horde or The Black Collar, Iím a sucker for fast paced action with guns. Big guns.

Unfortunately this book didnít really deliver.

Given the exciting premise - and that Mike Resnick is a well know science fiction writer Ė itís disappointing that A Castle in Cassiopeia is a rather weak book. He constantly tells us how tough his characters are, and how impossible the mission is, but we are not shown any of that. Even when they attack an enemy base that is filled with a billion soldiers, all armed to the teeth, we rarely get to see anything other than a handful of them. When we do see them, they are depressingly dumb. On the other hand, there are plenty of Ďgee youíre so toughí type comments past between the Dead Enders, and once the two main characters actually come close to fighting over the beer supplies. So plenty of muscle flexing and lots of talk, but not much by way of thrills.

If you liked Resnickís other books then you will probably enjoy this one too, but it is really just one for completists.

Sebastian Phillips


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