Ace, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Tim Davis
trap yourself in and enjoy a fun-filled ride in Allen Steele's latest SF novel,
. During your inter-galactic adventure, you'll travel along with the witty and appealing narrator, Jules Truffaut, a former ensign in the Union Astronautica who is - for his own special reasons - intent upon defecting from the Western Hemisphere Union; to affect his defection, Truffaut - a resourceful fellow and avid baseball fan who has used a variety of identities to accomplish his singular goals in life - has stowed away on board the CFSS Robert E. Lee which is making a routine transit from Earth to Coyote in the 47 Ursae Majoris system.
early succeeding in his undetected passage, Truffaut has to change his plans abruptly when he is discovered and arrested; however, moving quickly, he breaks away from confinement and hijacks one of the starship's lifeboats which he pilots on his own to Coyote. Confident that he is
and ready to demand asylum when he finally lands, Truffaut is promptly arrested (again!) and faces a quick trial and almost certain deportation back to Earth.
hat is when Truffaut's fortunes and adventures dramatically change (and Allen Steele's
kicks into hyper-drive). A high-rolling, wheeling-and-dealing entrepreneur named Morgan Goldstein has pulled a few strings and secured Truffaut's release from the authorities, and - in exchange for Goldstein's timely intervention - Truffaut signs on as a crewmember for a ship that will pioneer a new trading route (involving an exotic cargo of ultra-high-grade marijuana) with the normally xenophobic and isolated
, an alien race from the Rho Coronae Borealis system.
oining a colorful crew, Truffaut tries to make the most of his new opportunities, but everything backfires badly when he over-indulges at a banquet and commits a major faux pas in the presence of the most difficult hjadd officials; so, to overcome the
on behalf of humankind which the hjadd view as absolutely unforgivable, Truffaut (and his crew) are dispatched (against their better judgment) on a mission '
of great importance that, if successfully completed, will be of great benefit to all races of the galaxy.
' On the other hand, the mission is so dangerous - confronting a particularly ominous black hole - that Truffaut and everyone with him run the risk of complete annihilation.
ull of excitement and bursting at the seams with an innovative plot and intriguing characters,
is a top-notch space opera in which the author hits all the right notes. Don't miss it!
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