RogerBW's Blog

Antares Passage, Michael McCollum 08 March 2016

1987 SF, second in the Antares trilogy. The Altan and Sandarian space navies won't be able to fight the alien menace on their own, but they have a plan for getting back in contact with Earth.

This book has even less in the way of space battles than the first one: one boarding action against an unarmed merchantman, and that's your lot. There's slightly more to the plot than last time, but it's continually interrupted by humans and aliens telling each other about events we already know from the first book or even from earlier in this one.

The first two-thirds of the book is mostly naval operations, exploring a series of jump routes using new technology, and taking over a small alien base. Fortunately the aliens have never thought of stationing picket ships at the jump points, to bring word of an attack before any attacker can get across from their entry point and destroy them.

In the last third the fleet makes contact with Earth, and things get a bit more complex and interesting. Earth is, of course, not the instant answer to everyone's problems that had been hoped for, but there's at least an attempt at nuance in terms of just why that's the case; it's not simply a matter of "war good, peace bad", even if that's more or less what it comes down to in the end.

Yeah, it's still stock characters doing fairly stock things, but it's competently written. Undemanding, certainly, but sometimes I'm in the mood for undemanding.

Followed by Antares Victory.

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