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“The X-Ship”


4 Small Stars

This was an interesting book even though I found the writing kind of strange. It could use some better editing and the syntax just didn’t seem right, but I’m just a reader so I’m no expert on syntax. I’m not sure why the author refers to his main character as “The Soldier” all the time when he clearly has a name, ie., Marcus Cade, Force Leader Marcus Cade. Yes, he used to be a soldier during the Cyborg War, but that was over a thousand years ago. Now Marcus floats in a life-sustaining glass tube.

He’s about to be revived by a Dr. Halifax. He works for Earth Intelligence and they need to find out what is on Avalon IV. That planet is a “proscribed” planet, which really means you can’t go explore it for any reason. Yet, the Director of Group Six (sounds like a spy organization, doesn’t it!) wants it explored and whatever is found there to be recovered. So, Marcus. Cade has been chosen to be re-activated and sent on this mission. Except, things aren’t jus that easy.

Group Six needed the talents of one Jack Brune, an investigator. He lived in modern times and was pretty successful at finding things. He had been met by three subjects, one of which is Rohan Mars. He was thought to be a cyborg and his two associates were later found out to be advanced robots or androids. They also wanted Jack Brune to go to Avalon IV and, as Jack had been trained as an Anza Drop Trooper, he had the skills to avoid the dangerous orbital weapon systems and successfully drop from space to the planet. Unfortunately, Jack Brune didn’t want to break the law and he told Rohan Mars such which caused a deadly separation between him and Rohan Mars. Deadly, in that Jack Brune was killed.

So, it appears that modern medicine has questionable advanced where the memories of a person could, under specific circumstances, be transplanted into another persons brain. Dr. Halifax was an expert at this and Marcus Cade, remember him, was his next patient. Next we find Marcus Cade awaking, but he’s got some very conflicting things going on in his brain. While he believes he’s somebody else, Dr. Halifax attempts to convince him that he is Jack Brune. Marcus gradually begins sorting out who and what he is, but he does know that he needs to cooperate with Dr. Halifax since there may be other former soldiers like him still in “stasis”. One of those could possibly be his wife! If he successfully completes this mission for Dr. Halifax and Group Six, maybe he could be reunited with his wife even though they both should have die a thousand years ago.

Completing the mission isn’t going to be easy. And, while a lot of his former military training comes back to him, that alone doesn’t signify that he’ll be successful. He is an enhanced soldier. He’s bigger than normal, faster than normal and probably smarter than a normal human. Still, he is mortal and there are a number of ways he can be killed during this mission. One way, in particular, is how he’s going to get on the planet surface. Using a drop capsule is not the most pleasant thing and there’s a big chance it could be detected once it starts heading for the planet. He’ll also have to leave his ship and start his automate drop from a very, very long distance. His plan doesn’t go as far as deciding how he’s going to get off the planet after he finds what Group Six wants him to find. That part of the plan wasn’t considered essential since absolutely no-one believed he even get on the planet to begin with!

I haven’t read a Vaugh Heppner book in quite some time. This one is the first of a new series, and it might be pretty good, but this story was just so-so. I don’t know if there just wasn’t much empathy built for Marcus Cade or something. It seems that the Cade story will only continue because he wants to find his wife. That’s a nice thought, but I’m not so sure it’s compelling enough for readers to continue with the story. I might give the second book, “The Soldier: Escape Vector”, a read, but I really don’t know.

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