RogerBW's Blog

The Far Side of the Stars, David Drake 27 February 2021

2003 military SF, third of this ongoing series. Peace has broken out between Republic and Alliance, which means that Leary's command, the captured corvette Princess Cecile, is being sold out of service. But she's bought by a foreigner who needs a ship and a crew for his expedition to backwater space.

This is the first of these that's felt to me like a series entry. It's not that it's bad, it's that we don't get much in the way of progress or development; some people end up in different positions, some nameless ones end up dead, but Adele still does computer wizardry (and just like wizardry in genre fantasy it's as powerful as the plot needs it to be at that moment – otherwise why can't she do to the grounded ships on the base what she did to the earlier single ship?), Daniel still navigates and ship-handles like a champion and indulges himself with bits of local fluff while being sent to a minor place that turns out to be vitally important, and at the climax there's a battle against overwhelming odds.

Which if that's what you're in the mood for, and I was, is fine. I mean, there are thirteen books in this series right now, and I don't suppose it's any harder to find book one than to find book three. (In fact the first six books were included on the Baen free CDs, back when Baen still had the sense to realise that giving away the early books increased sales of the later ones more than they made off the long tail if they charged for the early ones.) So the only way I'd be recommending you start with this book would be if it were not only amazing as part of the series but also amazing considered on its own; and it's good as part of the series, probably good on its own, but not amazing. To get the full emotional effect, to care about the characters, it helps if you already care about them; there's some recapping of earlier events but it can't have the force of having read them at full length.

There are plenty of minor threads that get dropped and not picked up again, which might be unsatisfying except for the underlying feeling that this is a large universe and we simply can't observe everyone's stories. That's a neat trick on Drake's part and I wish I could work out how he manages it.

And there are good small details, like the role of religion which has largely abandoned supernaturalism but can still offer some degree of emotional comfort through familiarity and ritual. (And the religions here aren't just standard ones transplanted; this is a setting that's gone through major cultural changes and its religions have not been immune to that.)

Meanwhile there's still nothing like a "normal" female character: apart from the bits of fluff, there's a chronic introvert, a psychopath, and several parodies of self-indulgent noblewomen. Eh, I should probably be glad that (unlike a lot of mil-sf) it has female characters at all.

So if you liked books one and two, this is a decent continuation. If you didn't like them, don't bother with this one. If you haven't read them, read them and repeat from start of paragraph.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: Lt. Leary, Commanding | Series: RCN | Next in series: The Way to Glory

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1