I wish just once that a military science fiction story had the Humans as the big hulking brutes and the rest of the aliens as wimpy nothings. Didn’t happen in this one. The Bogans stand around 8 to 10 feet tall! The major one, Kladomaor, is one of the biggest Boxans we have to deal with immediately. And of course, he happens to be from their military caste. So, how did we get here?
Well, while everyone, but the Mission Commander, Michael Hunsicker, got themselves aboard the Athena, it blasted off straight thru a wormhole to an unknown destination. Hunsicker, as you’ll recall was trapped in one of the rooms at the Pluto listening post when Redford blew the place up by turning on a power switch he was told not to! He was also shot by Redford, accidentally or so he says. So, Kaylan now has to take over as THE mission commander. She’s been knocked out since her voodoo session in the “room” where she was transported somewhere to meet an old Boxan. Now the crew want to know if she’s in her right mind or if she’s been tainted by contact with an alien that none of the others have any knowledge about.
And then there’s the problem of where are they. The Athena is an Earth ship and not supposed to be able to navigate the galaxies. Fortunately, Zack Quick is still aboard and he’s the resident computer genius. He’s already working on the ship’s navigation problem trying to find out where they are and how to get back to Earth. Suddenly, he gets informed that he’s also downloaded part of an alien AI that resided on the system at the Pluto listening station. This AI has melded with the Earth or Human computer system and seems to have become much more capable with the two systems together. She finally gets Zack’s attention and they together figure out how to fix the ship and make it better. They want to go to where they can meet some more Boxans.
Now, keep in mind the old message Earth got not long ago. It said something like be aware of the Xiiginns. They don’t even know who these aliens are or what they look like, so it’s going to be hit or miss if they run into them in time in the near future. Their best bet is to head for one of the moons near a gas giant and see if anybody there can help them and hope it’s not the Xiiginns.
The writing is pretty good in the first book and carries over to this one. The crew isn’t the most optimal in my opinion, but they have what they have. Redford should have been thrown out an airlock at the first opportunity and then there’s Vitomir, a guy that’s not supposed to be on the Athena, he’s already killed four other people, including his wife. I don’t know why they keep him around either. I also think it’s kind of funny that the first encounter with another alien race and we’re actually having to run a race. Zack has offended the Nershals so he’s got to win this race against another Nershal or he dies. That was kind of a useless piece of the story.
There is a third book, The Star Alliance, but nothing about when it’s going to be published. I’ll be reading that one too. These are good science fiction books but they could have knocked off the love triangle business a little bit. This ain’t a romance novel, but it come close to reading like one sometimes.