Velocity Weapon by Megan E O'Keefe
|Velocity Weapon by Megan E O'Keefe|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: Alex Mitchell|
|Summary: Megan E. O'Keefe's debut novel combines space opera, political thrills, rogue AI and criminal dealings with well-realised world and a plot packed with twists and turns that will have you wanting more with every page. A must-read for fans of James S. A. Corey and Alastair Reynolds.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 544||Date: June 2019|
|External links: Author's website|
After her gunship is destroyed in a battle, Sanda Greeve expects to wake up in a friendly medical ward, fully healed and ready to get back into the fight. However, instead she wakes up a quarter of a millenia later, missing a leg, aboard an enemy starship called The Light of Berossus (or "Bero", as the starship's rather grumpy AI prefers to call himself). Bero tells Sanda that the war is long over, and that the entire population of the system is dead. The only option, it seems, is to travel to the nearest star system. But, as the starship makes preparations for its decades-long voyage across the stars, it becomes clear to Sanda that something else is going on...
I'm quite impressed with the effort that O'Keefe has put into this book, being over 500 pages long, and this being her debut at that. It reminds me a lot of Leviathan Wakes the first book of the Expanse series by James S. A. Corey, in terms of length and content. The author has left several plot threads hanging, presumably to be picked up by later books in the series.
One of the books main strengths is its characterisation – the writing style varies between each viewpoint character, so it gives a good idea of character just from reading. The first plot thread is told from the point of view of Sanda Greeve, a wise-cracking gunnery sergeant in the navy of Ada Prime, who is having to come to terms with the loss of her home, family and leg. Her two companions are Bero, the grumpy and caustic – but at the same time quite child-like – AI in control of the starship The Light of Berossus, and Tomas Cepko, an enemy comms expert and fellow survivor who seems to know more than he's letting on. The snarky banter between the three of them provides the majority of the book's more light-hearted and humorous moments. The plot also follows Sanda's younger brother Biran, a 'keeper' on Ada Prime, as he navigates his way through the schemes and plots of Ada prime's political sphere in a desperate attempt to find his sister. A third plot thread follows Jules Valentine, a hardened criminal from the neighbouring star system of Atrux, who ends up on the run from mysterious and powerful forces after stumbling on a secret laboratory during a botched robbery. Her plot is only tangentially connected to the main two and admittedly could be removed without interfering too much with the main plots.
The world in the book is very well-built. The majority of the action takes place in a single star system, The two main powers in the system are Icarion, a colony three-million strong based on an Earth-like planet, and Ada Prime, a small civilisation based on a Pluto-like dwarf planet around which the system's Casimir gate orbits. The Casimir gates, wormholes in all but name, have enabled humanity to travel between the stars relatively instantaneously. They do have a rather interesting, in that too much stellar flux can prevent a gate from forming, and so they have to be built out at the very edges of the solar system. It's an interesting little detail that adds to the realism of the setting. AI is fairly common in the setting, with every house seeming to have one, although they aren't anywhere near Bero's level of sophistication (something which angers him greatly). All of this is woven seamlessly into the plot and serves well to make the setting feel more alive.
In conclusion, this is a well-written tale of space adventure, underhanded political dealings and AI rights all wrapped up in a fast-paced plot and a well-thought-out world. A must-read for fans of James S. A. Corey and Alastair Reynolds.
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