I normally don’t read book collections. They are usually just too short and don’t tell a very good story. There are exceptions, of course, and this set of books definitely defines the kind of exception I’m talking about. You can tell these books were meant to be short and pretty much stand on their own. The author writes about one specific task or mission and nothing else. There’s no three of four story threads going on at different places that all seem to come together at the end. No, the crew of the Starship Satori define their mission and they go to it. Simple as that.
I’m going to break my review down by book so you’ll know where you’re at in the book and my review.
No Plan Survives Contact (Book 4)
John Caraway is the financier or mastermind behind the Starship Satori. He’s built a base on the moon for the purpose of mining Helium-3 which is the principle fuel used in space vehicles and soon to be the power for other needs. Earth has almost depleted their natural resources and desperately need an alternate fuel source. While building his moon base, John’s team came upon a buried derelict, an alien starship that was in very bad shape. He immediately shut down the discovery and placed anyone who knew about it, in a quarantine status until they could be vetted to ensure they wouldn’t reveal this amazing secret. He also hired Elizabeth (Beth) Wynn as his Chief Engineer and she managed to build a fully functional starship around what was left of the ancient alien vessel. What was left was pretty significant in that it was a computer system, an amazingly powerful engine, and a star-drive. Those things were integrated with human technology and the results were as you read about in books 1 through 3.
So, along with Beth, we have Dan Wynn (Beth’s ex-husband) and pilot, Charline, the computer genius, and Andy, the Chief of Security. This was the team for this mission. They needed to go back to the dead planet which had an oily goo for water and nothing but ratzards alive. Linda, the teams exobiologist needed more samples of ratzards and the oily goo in order to try and find something that could destroy both and bring the dead planet to life. This mission was supposed to be a “cake-walk”. John also wanted to see if Charline could hack into one of the orbiting defense satellites and gain some more intelligence on the Naga, their enemy last encountered in books 1 through 3.
As usual and as the title of this book says, things didn’t go as planned. The team was split, with John, Beth and Andy landing on the planet while Dan and Charline looked for an orbiting satellite. Things started going bad as soon as they began approaching the satellite. And once things go back for the Satori, you can be assured they go bad for the team on the ground. A pretty good book to continue the series with.
Liberty (Book 5)
Oh, I did forget to mention the other crew member of the Satori and that is Majel, the resident AI. Majel has become a combination of a pretty smart human created AI and has incorporated some alien coding into her programming and the two together have created a new type of life-form, a sentient artificial intelligence. She is obviously one-of-a-kind and even the crew isn’t totally aware of her capabilities. She did fight off the Naga satellite AI managing to save herself, Dan and Charlene. She was now trying to analyze the date or Intel they could get out of this last encounter. Unfortunately, the data they did capture wasn’t much and very incomplete. Likewise, the attempt to capture a live ratzard didn’t go successfully, although the trap that Beth had built came in very, very handy.
Linda, the exobiologist, had been working on the sample of black oily goo the team brought back and had some good news. She believed she had created a bacteria that could counter the goo and eventually clean it out of the native water. She also thought this bacteria would do mean things to the ratzards which means they wouldn’t be around much longer either.
So, with Linda along on this mission, they headed back to the dead world They dropped a load of the bacteria into the goo and watched it start to work. It looked promising. Still, there was so much of the goo covering the whole planet, they couldn’t just hang around until it was all gone. John had promised to return the alien translator in his ear to its home world so that’s where they headed next.
The Naga has conquered a whole planet of slug-like aliens who lived in their planet’s oceans. These little aliens had the ability to read peoples minds and while not directly translating languages, they could convey what the meaning of the words were to whomever was their host. Of course, these little aliens also had the ability to make life miserable for the person that was using them if they thought they were in danger. The Naga has threatened to destroy their entire world as they had with the dead world unless they cooperated. Linda had named this alien species the “Cyanauts”.
John hopes to return his current Cyanuat and maybe broker a cooperative agreement with them by convincing them they could protect their world from the Naga if the bacteria they had developed worked as intended. It was believed that the Cyanuats were peaceful creatures that wasn’t really aggressive towards others unless forced to do so. John and Andy went to meet with a collective of Cyanuats deep under their ocean. Thousands if not millions of these little slug-like aliens lived on what looked like giant whales. John soon found out that while a large majority of Cyanuats were peaceful and wanted to work with the humans, one group that lived on giant sharks wanted the bacteria now and were threatening to John and Andy.
Meanwhile, Linda and Charlene had been deposited on a small island where they could grab samples of the water and other life to test to make sure Linda’s bacteria wouldn’t harm them.
All the while, there is a Naga presence in orbit above the planet. So far the Satori hadn’t been detected due to its cloaking ability. But, things started going badly for both teams. The starship Satori had to blast from the ocean unexpectedly, which resulted in their detection by the Naga. Let’s just say that it was Dan’s turn to be captured. You’re going to want to read the book to find out what happens.
Satori’s Destiny (Book 6)
Well, let’s just say the crew and the Starship Satori got back to the moon base. They did so barely as that seems to be their condition every time. Every mission so far has started out to be a simple out and back trip, but winds up being a test of their ability to survive! Now, everything has kind of calmed down and the Satori is pretty much back together and ready for whatever may come, except this!
The moon base John built is being attacked. Some kind of super soldiers wearing unidentifiable uniforms have breeched the initial base defenses and are working their way down to the level of the Satori! John barely has time to tell Beth to get to the ship and prepare to get her out if they do reach her hanger. Each of the team members are taken out one by one. Dan sounded the alarm, but was immediately hit by several darts that thankfully only knocked him out. It looked like the attacking force was only using darts and not killing everyone.
Even John finally was overcome by the attacking force and went unconscious. Beth did manage to get the Satori out into deep space, but she didn’t really have a clue as to what to do next since she and Majel didn’t know who had invaded their base. So for now, they just hid with the cloaking device and tried to monitor some Earth communications to see if anyone was taking about the moon attack.
Then, three Naga battlecruisers show up! So, they finally found out where Earth was and that meant life was pretty much over for the humans. With only the Starship Satori able to defend Earth and with her crew only consisting of Beth and Majel, it didn’t look good.
<0>Meanwhile, John and Dan soon realize that they were on the receiving end of a special forces attack by the US Air Force. Somehow, General Hereford had learned of John’s secret base and wanted everything there including the Satori. John knew this day would come, but was hoping that it wouldn’t be so soon. He wasn’t sure as to how they learned of his base, but that was history now and he was wondering what was going to happen now. He and General Hereford were friends before, but John wasn’t sure what that relationship would do for now.
Dan had awoke in a single room with a wheelchair next to his bed. So, his captures knew about his condition (he lost the use of his legs when saving a little girl’s life). When the door to his cell opened it shocked him to see his former Air Force boss, Lt. Colonel Harry Wheeler, standing there. Wheeler said he needed to show something to Dan if he was up to it. Dan now realized that the Air Force was behind the attack and figured that wasn’t as bad as some foreign country now knowing about the Satori. Wheeler pushed Dan’s wheelchair to and an elevator and they went down several levels. The doors finally opened to a large hanger. Inside were rows and rows of fighter jets. Dan said he was impressed with this large secret base, but didn’t understand what Harry was trying to show him. He’d seen jets before, up close and personal. Then Harry told him to look real close at these jets. It shocked Dan a moment later when he realized these jets had attitude thrusters all over them. These were space-capable ships. Harry confirmed that and told Dan that he wasn’t the only one that had secrets. Harry said they had about two dozen of these ready and more were being built.
That’s about the time the alarms began going off all over the place. Harry and Dan hurried up the elevator to the control room where he met up with John and General Hereford. The alarms were going off because the Naga battlecruisers had just been sighted. Earth was in for a fight they couldn’t win. So, here’s the final book in this collection. Something significant happens here; something kind of sad. But, there are more books to come so that’s kind of a happy ending.