Coleman’s debut novel offers sci-fi action fans a robust, futuristic adventure.
Set in the not-too-distant future, the book leads with the romantic exploits of Von Coleman, a M.A.S.A.I. team leader of the squad known as the Madmen. The novel then segues to the dramatic capture of U.S. Navyspace’s flagship, the USS Galileo, by a nefarious faction of Azian Maou, an ancient race of feline humanoids. Led by Azian terrorist Hol, the Keepers of Purity Army unleashes the destructive Medusa Stone Axion Cannon to recover the Seed, an artifact buried in Mars that can destroy entire worlds. Hol’s efforts, however, are frustrated by Lonewolf, a highly skilled, tech-enhanced female warrior who defeats Farakar, Hol’s monstrously brutal assassin. Charged with the Galileo’s return are Capt. Carey Desaro and the crew of an aging lightspeed carrier, the USS Colin L. Powell. The battles rage from desperate mano-a-mano swordfights on the Galileo to spectacular Star Wars–like aerial dogfights above Mars. Coleman keeps things moving on several planes, interspersing playful and often violent, sexually charged hijinks between his namesake and female foils wearing speed/strength-enhancing SmartSkins. There are cowardly betrayals that turn the story in unexpected directions and a strong esprit de corps among the crew to propel the story to a hopeful end. Coleman adroitly handles futuristic technical details, taking the reader on an imaginative ride. The overabundance of military tech-speak sometimes grows tiresome, particularly in weapons, ships and command structure, and too much detail begs explanation and buries the narrative. The story also seems in search of a real protagonist, with ancillary characters involved in major struggles. Only at the very end does Von emerge as hero, with a surprise ending that could have been better foreshadowed.
A jargon-heavy but tightly paced read that begs for a sequel.