Posts Tagged ‘Space Opera’

The Bastard Legion by Gavin G Smith

November 15, 2017 - 7:41 pm No Comments

The Bastard Legion
Author: Gavin G Smith
Published by: Gollancz, 5th October 2017
ISBN: 978-1-473-21725-6
322 pages
Reviewer: Ken Norman

The title is enough to make most teenage boys snigger, and I guess that is the point. It’s a book that seems to be aimed squarely at that young adult male sector of the market.
This space-war-opera revolves around a hard hitting, gun-toting slip of a girl called Miska who’s lost her Mummy and her Daddy’s a simulation, as he’s been toasted by persons unknown. She used to be a soldier in her youth, so she’s nicked a prison barge full of dangerous lifers and has decided that a mercenary’s life on the frontiers of the law is a winner, especially as barge has provided her with a private supply of grunts to send into conflict to die. If they don’t die quick enough, or look at her in a funny way, she blows their head off with a remote controlled neck collar. The problem is, she’s got a bit of an existential crisis going on, and worse, can’t quite work out what to call her band of brothers (they’re all dudes). Oddly, there’s almost no other women in the story, apart from the odd evil executive or about-to-be-cannon-fodder adversary. However, she’s going to kill a bunch of bad people and find out who killed her Daddy whilst getting paid for whatever mercenary activities can be found in the nearest G-class star.

There’s a voluminous whiff of fantasy here – mainly the authors’. Gavin Smith would appear to have a bit of a crush on Miska, as she’s a bit of a murderous villain, a bit vulnerable and a bit sexy all at the same time. She’s something of a superhero too, with a big bag of techy upgrades to her personal self. It’s the sort of universe where you’d hope humanity would have overcome some of the issues happening in the book, but you apparently never run out of the need for a printed AK-47, even when you’ve got FTL travel. If anything, there’s too much in this first volume – too many ideas about what’s cool, fun, possible (or not) all thrown into the pot to create a future world that’s not quite consistent.

It’s a fun read, if you like a good battle scene, or your inner male mental age has settled around 15. The fast and loose mix of ideas from left, right and centre is a bit confused, but that might settle down in the next installment. The book’s title tries to keeps you guessing right to the end, but in the end, it’s pretty obvious.


Review – Transmission

January 24, 2012 - 12:48 am No Comments

Transmission: Ragnarok Vol Two
Author: John Meaney
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 421pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Volume two in the Ragnarok trilogy, Transmission is John Meaney’s latest epic SF Space Opera and spans thousands of years as various characters find themselves intertwined inexplicably through time.

In 8th Century Norseland, we meet Ulfr, a young man who can see the darkness his enemy he tracks through the lands intent on destroying an evil only he appears to see.

In Europe WWII, Gavriela also sees a darkness that few others can see, as the Third Reich closes in. She finds herself adept at code breaking and aides the Allies in their fight against evil.

In 2603, Pilot Roger is mourning the loss of his parents and his planet as he comes to terms with his new life alone, pursued by the same darkness, as he is trained in the espionage skills shared by his father. This is a new life for Roger and he is intent on finding the evil that destroyed his family.

Ulfr, Gavriela, Roger – all are linked through time and through their ability to see a darkness that few others can see.
As to be expected with a second volume in a trilogy, questions do remain unanswered at the close of the novel. However, this power house of SF is an example of why Meaney remains a strong voice in the genre. Meaney’s love and knowledge of the martial arts and hypnosis feed into the novel, as does his scientific knowledge. For science novices, some of the theories explained can be a little confusing, but this does not detract from the readers’ enjoyment.

The characters are well written, the world building is phenomenal and the pace as chapters switch from time zones is just right, keeping the tension levels up. The female characters are particularly strong and literally jump off the page, particularly the WWII code breaker Gavriela. The novel is also steeped in historical accuracy and authenticity.

Though a little hard going at times this novel is a prime example of hard SF done right. I look forward to what volume three of the Ragnarok trilogy holds.