Trying to colonize a replacement for the dead Earth, intrepid survivors of the human race realize that the world they’ve chosen already has some powerful claimants.
In his sequel to The Vanguard Chronicles (2012), Menard follows the human colonization of a distant planet, dubbed Legacy, as a replacement for no-longer-habitable Earth. Seventeen years after events in the first book, narrator Ryan Evans, now a high-level government employee, has two tasks. First, he must mentor an uncertain young James Chandler, son of the legendary colonial hero Kyle Chandler (featured in the previous book), and help him live up to his father’s Capt. Kirk–like headstrong courage and decisiveness. Second, Evans faces the inconvenient truth that other spacefaring races already have a substantial stake in Legacy. There is the ancient, mysterious Zorn Collective, remote forerunners of humanity, who, fleeing galactic war and seeking new sources of the rare mineral that sustained them, set up a number of automated, abandoned redoubts filled with incredible technology. There are the reptilian Bergerac, who, despite their Klingon-like hostility, may have been unfairly attacked by Zorn and human alike and are now determined to wipe their enemies out. There are also other assorted races/cultures, some predatory, some benign. The heavily armed heroes occasionally worry about the ethics of battle, but one of their ships is named the “Explorer Rambo,” so it’s a fair guess that retribution against any marauder will be merciless. In between the combat, romantic entanglements, family complications, and breakthroughs in munitions R&D, humans realize the Zorn heritage of the stricken Earth and other Zorn-touched worlds and what it means for them. It’s not as thoughtful as 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the novel does cover an impressive span of light-years and planets in a big-picture saga of the far future that delivers the action and eschews a gas-giant page count.
Broad-canvas cosmic action with some pauses for introspection.