Fiction Reviews

Starship: Flagship

(2009) Mike Resnick, Pyr, US$26, hrdbk, 328 pp, ISBN 978-1-591-02788-1

A rebel starship under the command of Wilson Cole leads a rag tag rebel fleet against the Republic. The Republic itself is at war with the Teroni Federation: a non-human alliance that is worried about Mankind's rise. Hit and run strikes against the mighty Republic are but tiny pin pricks and Cole realises that he must strike at the Republic's heart…

This is the fifth and final story in Resnick's 'Starship' series with previous titles including Starship: Mutiny and Starship: Mercenary. But the fact that this is but one of a series should not put you off. Resnick's undemanding, easy-to-read style, the straightforward plot and conventional use of SF tropes mean that it is not hard to dive in and enjoy the ride without having read the earlier titles. Of course having said that, if you enjoy light, gung-ho space opera that has echoes of Hornblower, then you will want to go back and get the earlier books in the series.

This book, though, has an additional treat for Resnick fans. Now you may (if you are over here in Europe or based elsewhere in the World outside of N. America) have only vaguely heard of Mike Resnick. Really avid Science Fiction Concatenation followers will know that elsewhere on this site Mike Resnick has a 'Futures' short story, 'A Better Mousetrap'. Avid SF fans who follow the Hugos that Mike Resnick has five Hugo wins for novelettes and short fiction. So though the man's profile is not as great outside of N. America as it is within it, he certainly has a following and much work under his belt: some 58 novels and over 200 short stories to date. Therefore what you may not appreciate is that though Starship: Flagship is obviously set in the same universe as its prequels, a good proportion of Resnick's fiction, both novels and short stories, have been set in this same 'Birthright' universe. The additional treat for Resnick fans at the end of Starship: Flagship is that there is a four-page timeline starting from the nineteenth century spanning nearly 22,000 years with the dates of where Resnick's 'Birthright' stories and novels indicated. For those who tread the science fact and science fiction border (as many do into Concatenation) there is also a short (again light weight) appendix on wormholes.   However what was surprising for me was a brief final appendix on 'ethics'. It transpires that despite being a light read, the 'Starship' series does have some more serious ethical considerations, though I leave it for you to decide whether the author leans more to Bush or more to Obama.

Jonathan Cowie

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