Merbeth’s (Raid, 2017, etc.) latest—the first installment of an SF adventure trilogy—follows a family of smugglers as they unknowingly become entangled in a grand-scale conspiracy that could ignite an interstellar war and kill millions.
It's been three years since Scorpia Kaiser’s older brother, Corvus, left the family business to enlist and fight in a bloody conflict on his war-torn home planet of Titan. But, with Corvus' service officially ended, Scorpia—at the behest of her mother, the Kaiser matriarch—is piloting the family ship, Fortuna, to Titan to reunite her brother with the family. Picking up Corvus wasn’t the only mission, however. Her mother is completing a deal with government officials involving highly illegal alien biological weapons that could potentially end the war. As Corvus, Scorpia, and their siblings wait for their mother to return to the ship, they discover that a cataclysm is sweeping the planet, wiping out entire human populations. Forced to leave their mother behind, the siblings barely escape with their lives. Once safely in space, they realize that their mother has been used to wipe out the population of an entire planet—and that this may just be the beginning of a much larger, and deadlier, conflict. While the storyline is a bit predictable, the narrative is powered by a cast of deeply developed characters. Scorpia, in particular, is impressively multidimensional—a barely functioning alcoholic who has major issues involving her demanding mother. The stoic point of view of Corvus—who has witnessed horrors during the war—complements Scorpia’s more demonstrative narrative and gives the story a nice tonal balance. The nonstop action and varying levels of tension make this an unarguable page-turner, and the ending, while satisfying, is a perfect jumping-off point to another much larger adventure to come.
A wild SF ride—alcohol and family dysfunction not included.