Action-packed space opera tells the laws of physics to sit down and shut up, to no particular detriment.
Seventeen-year-old Jeth and his band of thieves operate under the iron thumb of interstellar crime lord Hammer, who treats traitors and resisters to brutal beatings and mind-erasing brain implants. Pulling jobs for Hammer is Jeth’s only way to buy back his late parents’ spaceship and keep his 13-year-old sister out of prostitution. The current assignment requires retrieving a missing spaceship from a Bermuda Triangle–ish area of space where ships malfunction and disappear. Jeth’s crew travels there via “metaspace,” but this is no hard science fiction: “Metatech” and “metadrives” receive an eventual explanation that’s mostly hand-waving, while things that should be difficult (rerouting power from one ship to another) or dangerous (a character moves through open space by pushing off a spaceship “as if he were diving”) are easy-peasy. Arnett’s fast-paced plot spotlights gun battles, twists and memorably grotesque damage to spaceships and bodies. As Jeth makes unsavory deals and repeatedly finds himself betrayed, a threat to billions of lives connects with his personal mission. Thoughtful readers (or anyone who’s seen Star Trek) will wonder whether the implied sequel will address a core moral atrocity at the root of metatech that this volume ignores.
There’s no subtlety and barely any science in this science fiction, but there is lots of action. (Science fiction. 14 & up)