A rogue crew of galactic outcasts, criminals, assassins, and informers tries to buy its way into a better existence by transporting a spaceship filled with deadly genetic contraband to shadowy clients.
In his sci-fi novel, Mosquera (Status Quo, 2014, etc.) creates a memorable and confusing—in equal measures—gallery of characters and alien races, though well-proportioned and libidinous humanoids predominate in lead roles. The setting is a far-future cosmos recovering from a traumatic interstellar war. A ship carrying deadly bioengineered life forms and GMO weapons crashes on a bleak mining-colony world. The planet’s tentacled boss, the Baron, secretly sells the top-secret cargo to mysterious, distant buyers. Tasked with delivering the goods is a collection of desperadoes and exiles eager to get off-world. There’s the putative captain, Damien Blackthorne, a tainted battleground hero with an artificial heart and “cybernetic left arm”; Frankie Nox, aka Scrap Doll, the treasure-hunting mind of a ruthless space pirate downloaded into the superbody of a sex robot; gourmet chef Braal Draedax, who schemes his way onboard with a hidden agenda; Silas Deacon, an ascetic Xartian with formidable tech skills as well as psi-based fight moves (imagine a lean, mean Spock, great in bed); and so on, nearly everyone coming accessorized with treacherously divided loyalties and secret identities. This raucous space romp is akin to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in terms of adventure, romance (well, sex), and really wild things, but with a solid R rating for violence, profanity, and erotica. The formidable mission by two-faced players (when their species even have faces) evolves into an episodic set of encounters, with a deadly game show, a slimy stowaway, and an assignment to masquerade as a “brawl ball” sports team, among other perils. It’s an agreeable thrill ride for fans who wish to deep dive into fast-moving, outlandish sci-fi pulp that doesn’t take itself too seriously but doesn’t hold back on the bloodletting and hard stuff either.
An enjoyable, raunchy, and gory sci-fi caper replete with duplicitous characters.