Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Review of Mike Resnick's Starship: Pirate

For me I have always felt Mike Resnick is my guilty little secret author. Generally I like hard science fiction, I like high concept science in my fiction. Books concerning alternate-dimensions or time travel, genetic manipulations, major scientific advancement and the like written by Stephen Baxter, Robert Charles Wilson, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and others fill my bookshelves.

Mike Resnick's fiction is not like this. His books are galaxy-spanning adventures, without the slightest care for how his starships, blaster pistols, gadgets and gizmos actually work. His worlds are frontier outposts, mankind on the edge, exploring and expanding into new territories. In short he is telling tales of America's old west transplanting the setting to the stars.

This probably leads to another reason why I shouldn't like his work. I do not like western movies. I endured many of them as a kid as my father is a fan, and I would be perfectly happy not seeing another my entire life, and reading one would certainly not figure. So my liking Resnick's fiction is something I try not to understand - I just accept it.

This particular book is the second in a series, although I would guess it is not all that necessary that you would have read the first. Suffice to say Wilson Cole is a hero, the most decorated officer in the Republic's navy. Also he is not particularly liked by the brass, having this tendency to get the job done by any means, even if it means circumventing regulations. That the public adores him, is just another reason why he is despised by the higher ranks.

In book one in the series he saved the day again. I'm not giving anything away - he was hardly likely to die in book one of a series intended to last five volumes. So the Navy decides to reward him with a court-martial. His crew disagrees with this, rescue him, steal their ship - a hundred-year-old patrol ship called the Theodore Roosevelt - and they head to the inner frontier.

Well they need to find someway to sustain themselves so they decide on becoming pirates. But being hero-types standard piracy is not going to be way of things - certainly not a moral enough activity for heroes to engage in. So they decide to prey only on other pirates.

All of which means that we are to meet a fairly familiar bunch of typical Resnick characters in typical Resnick surroundings. But do not for a minute think that this will lead to a very derivative and unoriginal book. This is a galactic-spanning stage remember. If we maintain the old west analogy then hearing the legends of the Frank and Jesse James does not mean we would not want to read about Billy the Kid, the Dalton Gang, "Doc" Holliday, Buffalo Bill or Wyatt Earp.

Resnick's books are fun; they are pick-me-up fiction. This one maintains that, it's a good read. It's not up with his best - for that you would need to check out Ivory or Santiago - but it should entertain anyone who enjoys adventure science fiction.