(2005) Mike Resnick, Pyr, $25.00, hrdbk, 286pp, ISBN 1-59102-337-8
This is the first of five proposed "Starship" novels, the next four being Pirate, Mercenary, Rebel and Flagship. They fit into Resnick's "Birthright" universe (as does the vast majority of Resnick's output) which is composed of five 'galactic eras': Republic, Democracy, Oligarchy, Monarchy and Anarchy. The five "Starship" novels fall at the end of the Republic era and there's a handy appendix (no.3 of 6) that allows fans of Resnick's work to place the books in order of their internal chronology, particularly useful given that Resnick's output is prolific, and then some! The other appendices tell the 'origin' of the "Birthright" universe, give its layout, a tour of the starship in question, the Theodore Roosevelt, a bio of Roosevelt himself, and character and ship descriptions. There's also a lengthy 'about the author' section. Sadly all this is, in fact, more interesting than the novel itself which is, to say the least, derivitive space opera.
The Theodore Roosevelt is a dumping ground for disobedient crew and officers and its newest first officer is Wilson Cole, a man with a reputation for exceeding his orders. Why those in control are stupid enough to build a hive of concentrated defiance, given the tons of SF they must have read, is beyond me... Anyway, the ship is ordered to sit out an ongoing conflict, but the orders are considered stupid by Cole, who engages the enemy, wins, and then is promptly sent for a trial, the conclusion of which is a foregone certainty. But of course Cole, with Kirk-like charisma, has won the loyalty of his crew who swiftly mutiny, rescue Cole and the whole lot of them zoom off into the wild black yonder to create a new life for themselves. I think the titles of the subsequent volumes probably can tell you where this is all going...
Resnick has won multiple awards in his career, including four Hugos, and his prodigious output includes more than forty-five novels and numerous short story collections (he's also edited several anthologies). Clearly a popular guy. And he can write - there's no doubt of that. But. Well, I just find him a bit lightweight, which isn't necessarily a bad thing - after all, not all books need to be deep and meaningful - but it grates on me. Stuff like this especially, where if you've read the back cover blurb you can pretty much skip reading the book. The plot is so thin most authors would barely bother using it as a prologue to a real book, and I suspect that by the time all five books are out that they will barely make one good novel combined. But that's probably just me, given Resnick's popularity and flair for winning awards. Either way, I can't bring myself to recommend this book, but am equally happy to concede that I'm probably in a minority of one as far as that goes. It probably will appeal to Resnick's fans, and good luck to them...
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