It's Book Review Wednesday, and today I've got a book along the lines of Battlestar Galactica and Lost in Space, but for young adults…
A Desperate Mission
An Interstellar war…
A remote, bizarre Planetoid…
A heroic boy on a desperate quest…
At the onset of an interstellar war, 14-year-old Linus Martin flees from his father’s ship in the Cyrano, a recently acquired scout vessel. Accompanied by Mitchell, the vessel’s on-board computer and Bit, a small, floating orb-shaped robot, Linus crash-lands on a pre-programmed destination, a bizarre planetoid upon which lie the ancient and powerful treasures of a long vanished civilization. Join Linus on his strange odyssey as he races against time and faces the unknown perils of dangerous and mysterious worlds as he hopes to recover the artifacts and save his race from near-certain annihilation.
Crash of the Cyrano is the first book of this series which is inspired by the 1981 computer game Strange Odyssey, written by Scott Adams who is widely considered to be the father of computer gaming. Scott is a long-time computer programmer and fan of computer games. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife, children, and grandchildren.
My Review: 3.5 Stars
What I liked about this book:
Classic space odyssey story. Daunting odds, and a boy with just enough skill to hopefully defeat them. Space battles! Spaceships!
The little boy in me loved every part of this space odyssey. Story-wise, it's a lot like the classic space odysseys that were popular when space sci-fi first came out.
What I found less than awesome:
It finished too soon. It felt like the book ended half-way through the second act. It had just introduced the villain of the book and it ended. The climax was less climactic than I was expecting given such high stakes. It's not quite a complete story--it could be the first half of a book.
It's not a sci-fi masterpiece like you'd expect from David Weber or Orson Scott Card. The writing was adequate, characters were interesting, and the book series has a lot of potential. My adult half looks at it with a lot of skepticism, but my inner child enjoyed it.
Here's a Taste:
Linus broke radio silence. “Braemar control, I have picked up two Grilga-class interceptors pursuing an old Scout ship. It looks like a very old Inverness-Class vessel, but heavily modified if my computer is processing the sensor data correctly. Whatever it is, it has a fair lead and seems to be holding its distance for now, but appears to be in danger as the rift jump looks to have damaged an engine.” Linus saw that one of the four thrusters (The Inverness-class vessels originally came with but two, hence Linus’ noting the modifications of the ship) was sputtering, and looked about to give out entirely. Once it did, there was no way the ship could escape its hunters.
“Remained cloaked.” came the encrypted reply. “Nails and Shooter have launched and are en route, ETA six minutes.” This implied that Nilz Adams (Call sign “Nails”) the Flight Leader and senior pilot Campbell Ross (Call sign “Shooter”) who was his second-in-command were coming to rescue the imperiled ship.
Linus considered the situation; these were the two most experienced and skillful pilots aboard the ship, except of course for his father. Linus hoped they were piloting Peregrine fighters as they were the quickest of the craft outside of the Mako. It was also the best pure dogfighter, again except for the Mako, though the Peregrine had superior armor, shielding, and weapons, giving it a greater ability to sustain a long battle.
Linus frowned as his computer verified his suspicions. There was very little chance of them arriving in time to do more than avenge the Scout ship’s death. The battle would be over in three minutes at most, perhaps four. The Scout ship’s struggling thruster finally gave out and the two pursuing craft slowed down to begin torpedo runs on it.
This particular act of performing a torpedo run was rather a cruel tactic, essentially like a cat toying with a wounded mouse. With this scout ship severely slowed and its shields now indicating a loss of power, a simple spread of missiles could dispatch it far more efficiently than a torpedo. A torpedo was also about ten or more times expensive than even a score of missiles. No, the reason for this was to make the target experience fear.
Linus watched as both vessels lined up and then began accelerating. The Scout ship tried vainly to re-ignite the fourth engine, the flash of restart attempts registering, but they were unfortunately failing. These futile efforts also further drained the shields to the point where only life-support systems remained active. Linus could see that Nilz and Campbell were rapidly approaching the area, but would not arrive in time to save the beleaguered ship.
Linus came to a quick conclusion to act. Despite knowing he would likely be grounded by his father for this, he sent the encrypted message that said simply “Engaging.” He quickly increased speed and armed his IFF missiles. He had four of them, this would be two per enemy fighter, overkill perhaps, but he wanted to be certain that he destroyed them before they could damage the Scout ship.
As he predicted, he received a flurry of messages ordering him to remain cloaked and stand down. He knew his father was likely on the bridge frantically shouting orders to be conveyed to his son to stay out of the danger zone. However, his father he reasoned had brought him into danger the day his mom gave birth to him on board the Braemar, this was the life his parents had created for him, one of adventure and danger and this was he said to himself his “baptism by fire”.
He received a lock-on tone and did not hesitate. He was not sure about the protocols as they related to firing on a Volmyrian vessel; after all they technically were still at war, albeit a truce, but this was an un-claimed system. Both sides explored it and in the past, the Braemar had kept a safe distance from other Volmyrian craft and they had done likewise. Whatever the Scout ship and its pilot (the ship was too small for practical use by more than one person) had done or seen had obviously necessitated pursuit and this meant that they were unconcerned about peacetime conventions as well.
Linus pressed the firing trigger and loosed all four missiles. The projectiles surged forward and their internal computers selected the two targets, and altered their courses and accelerated accordingly. He knew that the two enemy craft would be quite surprised to suddenly see four missiles appear seemingly from nowhere along with seeing the Mako craft that launched them materialize in the distance.
The two enemy fighters could choose to continue their torpedo runs, knowing they would be destroyed after launching their weapons, or they could attempt evasion. Linus smiled as his computers indicated that the missiles would strike before they could release the warheads. The Volmyrian pilots would know this as well and he hoped their pride would not stop them from attempting escape.
Linus was relieved as the Volmyrian pilots chose the better part of valor and attempted to use their Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) as a prelude to escape. However the IFF missiles were rarely fooled as these models were also programmed with image recognition. Upon launch from the Mako, the missiles had quickly “snapped” a picture of the enemy fighters and so even if the ECM worked, they would bore in on the visual target they still presented with cold, brutal efficiency.
Linus hoped that the missiles would strike the two craft, but only damage them enough that they would be forced to run, giving Nilz and Campbell the opportunity to capture them. He was not eager to see the pilots killed even though they would have no such qualms were the situation reversed.
Linus’ radio crackled to life. It was not coming from the Braemar, from the approaching Peregrine fighters, nor the enemy; it was coming from the scout ship. The voice as it spoke sounded somewhat harried, yet calm and confident at the same time.
“This is Darvin Jones, Captain of the Cyrano, calling out to the approaching Earth fighters. I am under attack by Volmyrian fighters and am being pursued by a battleship which remains on station beyond the rift. My craft is damaged and I am requesting aid, please.”
Linus smiled at the rather belated call for help, but also at the recognition of the Captain’s name. Darvin Jones was rather an infamous character. He and his ship, the Cyrano, had become the stuff of legend. The man himself was known to be charismatic, always smiling and friendly. Yet he was also renowned somewhat as something of a scoundrel. He was infamous for engaging in smuggling activities and often dealing with shady individuals on both sides of the conflict in order to acquire the rather eclectic goods he sold. Much of what he did was not a crime, but still skirted along the edges of legal and illegal activities.
He was shaken from his ruminations by the buzzing noise from his console. His missiles had struck true, all four of them and he saw that both Grilga fighters were destroyed. The shock of what he had done hit him like a sledgehammer. He had just been responsible for taking two lives. He knew the life his family and fellow crewmates led was dangerous and he had seen ships blow up and a few lives lost before; however this was the first time he had taken them.
Wiping tears from his eyes, he opened communications with Nilz. “Nails, its “Banshee” (his chosen Call sign). He paused for a moment. “Both bogies destroyed, the Cyrano is requesting safe escort back to the Braemar for repairs.” He cut off the radio and programmed the auto-pilot for return to home. He then closed his eyes and laid back, deep in thought.
About the Author
R. D. Trimble is the author of The Andrew Chronicles which feature his children Andrew and Tyler. He also has authored over a dozen other novels and illustrated books for children and young adults. As the father of an Autistic child, he pledges to donate 50% of all net profits from his books to causes which research and seek treatment for Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders. This particular novel however pledges 50% of its net profits to stopcaidnow.org, an organization which seeks to provide assistance to all suffering from Childhood rare AutoInflammatory Diseases (CAID). He resides in San Diego, California with his wife Nickcole and sons Andrew and Tyler.
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