Dark Run by Mike Brooks
|Dark Run by Mike Brooks
|Category: Science Fiction
|Reviewer: Sam Tyler
|Summary: Join the crew of the cargo ship Keiko as they smuggle their way across the galaxy in this science fiction adventure that is part Han Solo, part Firefly, but still itself.
|Date: June 2015
|Publisher: Del Rey
|External links: Author's website
For any sane person Space is not a place you would want to go. Yes, there is the great unknown, planets to visit and the potential to meet alien life, but all that sits between you and the endless void is a few inches of metal – no thank you. To make things even worse, the future of space travel also appears to have pirates, terrorism and petty bureaucracy. I think I will stick to getting my astronaut-based thrills vicariously through the medium of the novel.
The Keiko is a ship full of misfits who make a living doing some of the grey smuggling that makes trade between planets really tick. When Captain Ichabod Drift is contacted by an old acquaintance he is dragged into delivering a parcel that he would rather not. Drift’s instincts may have proved true as this is one delivery that will put him and his crew in deadly confrontation with more than one intergalactic force.
If you grew up watching Star Wars, everyone wanted to be the cool Han Solo and not that dweeb Luke Skywalker. Like Serenity before it, Dark Run by Mike Brooks is a homage to the swashbuckling smuggler of Tatooine. The book mixes the space-faring action with a dark and gritty feel, more reminiscent of the Western films of the 70s. To get the right mix, Brooks needed to get the right crew and it is here that the book really shines.
The Keiko is full of great characters that are clearly defined with individual motivations, but act together as a sort of disjointed family. There is Drift who acts like a father figure, in a Shameless manner, but there are also crew that appear to be like the mother, children or even the grumpy uncle. The first half of the book sees this motley bunch on the run and reading them spark off one another, whilst still pulling together to survive, is frantic and fun.
The book itself drops slightly in the second half when the hunted become the hunters. When the crew are being more devious and aggressive they lose a little of their charm. That is not to say that the book is not fun in these parts, just that the seat-of-their-pants adventure seemed to breeze by, whilst the end drags a little more.
Although the story pace fluctuates a little, the universe that Brooks created remains of a high standard throughout. The crew of The Keiko are the flotsam of life in a future dominated by a few powerful corporations and alliances. Seeing this from the point of view of those that live in the cracks is really interesting; you get a glimpse of the whole but are not battered with information. This means that there is plenty of scope remaining for further adventures as the universe itself has only just been revealed.
Dark Run is great action science fiction that fans of fast-paced tales will love. It lacks sophistication in places, but this is more than made up for with well-rounded and fun characters that you want to root for. Like in any family there is friction and it is this human element that combines with the more outer space action to make a satisfying adventure.
More space-related action can be found in The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher and Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea. You might also enjoy Passengers to Sentience by Peter Salisbury and The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard by Jack Campbell.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Run by Mike Brooks at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Run by Mike Brooks at Amazon.com.
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