In Jucha’s debut sci-fi novel, a bright, pragmatic starship captain from a far-future human-colonized world finds his life changed by an exciting, ominous discovery in deep space.
After many years of collecting ice asteroids with his explorer-tug-ship Outward Bound to support New Terra’s expansion, Alex Racine undertakes a very dangerous maneuver to find a derelict starship called the Rêveur, built by humans more advanced than those in his own society. It turns out that there are survivors aboard the ship who’d been in suspended animation since an attack left their vessel drifting in the void. These people, the Méridiens, are led by Renée de Guirnon, who tells Alex of their highly advanced enemies aboard a strange silver ship. The friendly but somewhat introverted Alex, with the aid of the Rêveur’s sarcastic artificial-intelligence computer, Julien, decides to help the Méridiens make their craft space-worthy again and get home. Along the way, Alex comes to know and care for Renée, learns about the Méridiens’ way of life, and puzzles out some of the mystery of the silver ships and the aliens controlling them. Overall, this book is straightforward fun. The characters are sympathetic and entertaining, if a little thin—although none of them seem intended to be much more than fun, action-adventure personalities. Alex himself is likable enough, if perhaps a bit too perfect, but light sci-fi is often built on such idealized characters. The plot is straight-ahead and quick-paced with plenty of action, and the clear-cut, descriptive, but stylistically neutral text keeps things moving. If there are underlying literary themes, they’re slight, submerged, and kept out of the way of readers’ fun. The story is just grown-up enough to avoid a young-adult tag, but it steers clear of anything that’s stereotypically adult. As is de rigueur for the genre, it’s the first installment of a planned series.
A good, meat-and-potatoes space-opera adventure.