A survivor of the first encounter with aliens in 2164 spearheads a mission to rescue a hijacked civilian ship and crew from an ostensibly aggressive species in this sci-fi tale.
Lt. Barrett Hannum, navigator for the scientific vessel the Odysseus, pulled through after an alien spacecraft dubbed the Titan hijacked the humans’ ship. But only he and Commander Tori Waylon—stuck in a medical repair-bot AutoDoc—are left, with the vessel and remaining crew lost. Hannum’s picked up by a warship, the Franklin Moyer, whose captain wants to use him and his DarkStars (probes), modified with alien hardware by his artificial intelligence, Aeon, to find the Odysseus and another missing scientific ship, the Reliant. Though the Titan’s no longer orbiting the aliens’ ocean planet, light years away from Earth, Hannum can use a DarkStar to scan and examine the colossal vessel. He’s also able to view a recording of the Reliant’s contact with aliens, who appear to attack, though Aeon speculates that the ensuing battle may have been initiated for a reason other than hostility. Hannum, promoted to lieutenant commander and with the help of ever-present Aeon, leads Marines in an effort to locate the Reliant and its crew. It’s an arduous and dangerous task, made even more difficult by antagonistic Commander Nicole Reed aboard the Franklin Moyer. The second in Logsdon’s (Odysseus, 2015) series shows definite evolution; the preceding entry was predominantly Hannum alone with Aeon, whereas the latest novel features numerous characters and some action. This time Hannum effectively gets an upgrade, able to converse with Aeon mentally, which the AI eventually explains. The two generally speak in hypotheticals, because they know little about the other species, sparking an intriguing contrast between contemplative Hannum, concerned with rescuing people, and the Marines, ready for war. Disappointingly, aliens are rarely visible, aside from a tentacled creature humans name the Kraken, and even a battle-laden final act, while exciting, involves an enemy that’s unseen. Logsdon’s narrative is unfortunately marred by sometimes toneless descriptions, like the “very oriental looking” female officer. There are, however, several inspired but ultimately unresolved notions, including a Tori-centric twist, all hopefully illuminated in a later book.
The author wisely expands his fictional and increasingly riveting futuristic universe, with room to grow.