Dark Sky by Mike Brooks
|Dark Sky by Mike Brooks
|Category: Science Fiction
|Reviewer: Sam Tyler
|Summary: The crew of The Keiko are back in another fun adventure and this time they find themselves in between a rock and a hard place; or more correctly a planet wide hurricane and a revolution.
|Date: November 2015
|Publisher: Del Rey
|External links: Author's website
Making money is not easy, especially if you live life on the edges of known space scraping a living doing odd jobs with your crew; some legal, some not so legal. You may not have much money, a good ship or even adequate washing facilities, but what you do have is the friendship and camaraderie of your fellow crew mates. That is unless you have all just discovered that the captain used to be a space pirate who once suffocated his entire crew so that he could escape. Welcome to the jolly ship Keiko.
After the events of Dark Run the crew of The Keiko are actually pretty flush with cash and are spending some much needed downtime on a pleasure planet. However, idle hands are the devil's work, so when Captain Ichabod Drift is offered a simple and legal run to a mining planet, he takes the job. However, this being The Keiko, nothing is ever that easy as this is a planet prone to planet-wide hurricanes and revolutions – both of which happen to be starting right as the spaceship lands.
For all the talk of space travel, magnificent worlds and images of the unreal, the best science fiction starts and ends with the characters. There is little point exploring epic ideas if the reader cannot connect to anyone on the page. This is not a problem for Mike Brooks as with the crew of The Keiko he has a set of characters that are growing nicely into a group that the reader can enjoy and even start to think of as friends. Dark Run was a great introduction that saw them on the run from a shadowy and powerful enemy, the book only started to flag once the crew became the aggressors and the action took over from the characters.
During the early moments you may worry that Dark Sky will suffer the same fate as the crew are hired once more by a shadowy and powerful man. Is this to be a case of an author finding a formula they like and repeating it? Thankfully, Brooks is a far too savvy a writer for this and instead he takes the great character development from Book 1 and creates a smaller story in Book 2 that is even better than the explosive original.
Brooks places Captain Drift et al on a planet that they cannot leave. He then separates the crew by a set of unforeseen circumstances and they find themselves on opposite sides, but aiming for the same goal. The Revolutionaries versus the State works brilliantly as a series of tremendous action set pieces and the reader gets to the battle from both points of view. By separating the crew, Brooks has cannily allowed himself a way to seamlessly explore the relationships between characters that would not necessary interact together. By the end of this outing new bonds have been made and a few old bonds have been re-broken.
Having an interesting set of crewmates really lifts the book. Not only do you get some great action science fiction, but you get some tit-for-tat dialogue that reminds you of Firefly, an obvious, but close comparison. By reducing the scale of the action Brooks has better balanced the explosions with the exposition, making for a better read as you care about the characters hurtling headlong into trouble. I would willingly read more adventures with the crew of The Keiko and hope to learn even more about them as they leave destruction in their wake.
Reading the original first is not a must, but will help you know the characters better, so try dark Run. For more explosive science fiction action, check out Koko the Mighty by Kieran Shea, they don't get much more dangerous than Koko.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Sky 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 Sky by Mike Brooks at Amazon.com.
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