With season 2 of The Expanse going strong on television (Yay Bobbie Draper!), I find myself looking for more space opera to fill in the days between episodes. Hence today’s post about Faster Than Light, an ambitious book from Brian Haberlin & Skip Brittenham, published by Image Shadowline.
The discovery of faster than light travel propels the human race into space. But before they can leave the solar system, they discover an extra planet no one had ever seen before. The orbit of this planet is described as looking like a Mobius strip, taking it wildly far out and then back so close to the sun it can’t be seen. The Discovery is ordered to investigate before they can continue their mission to travel outside the solar system. What they find is a cold, barren world full of mysteries and danger. If they want to continue their mission, they need to unlock those mysteries. Before it kills them.
Faster Than Light is a good addition to the annals of space opera, very much feeling like an episode of Star Trek. However, it takes a while to get going. The first few pages jump from place to place, character to character, attempting to setup the world and the mysteries. It’s not until the crew are on the planet and working to figure things out that it picks up and finds a good, solid pace.
There’s a lot going on in this book, including political intrigues, secret side-missions, and hints at a much broader mission/mystery only a few people are aware of.
The characters are well done, but feel archetypal. You have the action-oriented captain, the angry first-officer, passed over for command, the quirky engineer. In some respects, the crew of The Discovery feel like they were ripped right out of Star Trek. There’s even a nod to Trek when another ship captain spray paints ‘Enterprise’ across the hull of his ship.
Although the characters are familiar, they’re no less captivating. The story is also very entertaining and compelling, and told in sections with a minimum of flashbacks – which I like. There’s obviously a lot more coming, and I look forward to reading about it in future volumes.
I like the art and designs of the ships, planets, and space itself. All very cool and detailed, setting the mood quite well. The character designs feel a little stiff and creepy to me—people’s heads look exaggerated and shiny, like plastic. That’s what comes to mind, similar to the Toyman from Superman: The Animated Series.
If you’re looking for a good space opera, and the character heads don’t bother you much, I suggest you check out Faster Than Light.
Patrick Hester is an author, blogger, and two-time Hugo Award Winner. He lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed - @atfmb. His novel, SAMANTHA KANE: INTO THE FIRE is available at all major retailers. His short fiction can be found in the anthologies Space Battles: Full-Throttle Space Tales #6 and An Uncommon Collection, as well as the eBooks Conversations with my Cat, Witchcraft & Satyrs, Consumption, Cahill's Homecoming, and Cahill's Unfinished Business. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for multiple Parsec and Hugo Awards.