Title: Starship: Mercenary
Author: Mike Resnick
Publisher: Pyr / Audible
Format: Hardback / Audio
Pages: 323 / 8 hours, 36 minutes
Release Date: December 2007 / April 2008
Buy from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Audible.co.uk, Audible.com
The date is 1968 of the Galactic Era, almost three thousand years from now. The Republic, created by the human race but not yet dominated by it, is in the midst of an all-out war with the Teroni Federation. Captain Wilson Cole, a man with a reputation for exceeding orders but getting results, found himself the victim of a media feeding frenzy, a political scapegoat despite years of dedicated military service. Faced with a court martial, he was rescued by the loyal crew of his ship, the Theodore Roosevelt. Branded mutineers, the Teddy R. has quit the Republic, never to return.Staship: Mercenary is the third book in Mike Resnick's Starship series, preceded by Starship: Mutiny and Starship: Pirate. It picks things up where they were left in Pirate, with Wilson Cole and the crew of the Teddy R giving up on the piracy game and deciding to go into the mercenary business. Again, Resnick manages to mix things up and delivers another solid story that keeps much of the same that made the first two books so successful, but adds more to the story to keep the reader more than satisfied. Read on for more...
Seeking to find a new life, Wilson Cole first remade the Teddy R. as a pirate ship plying the spaceways of the lawless Inner Frontier. But military discipline and honor were a poor match for a life of pillaging and plundering, and Cole’s principles naturally limited his targets. Taking on a new role, the Teddy R. becomes a mercenary ship, hiring out to the highest bidder. Whether it’s evacuating a hospital before war can reach it, freeing a client from an alien prison, or stopping a criminal cartel from extorting money from a terrified planet, the crew of the Teddy R. proves equal to the task. Along the way they form a partnership with the once human Platinum Duke, team up with a former enemy, and make the unique Singapore Station their headquarters.
But the life of a mercenary is not always predictable, and eventually circumstance pits Cole and the Teddy R. against his right-hand woman, the former Pirate Queen known as the Valkyrie. Soon the fragile trust that has grown between these two legends is put to the test as they find themselves on opposite sides of a job.
With David Copperfiled now living on board the Teddy R due to the events in Pirate, and also acting as their job finder, their is a new dynamic to the ship. Copperfield brings some light comedy to the novel, a welcome addition, and his interactions with Cole are great, sometimes even the highlight of the novel. His cowardice is a particularly amusing aspect, and his character seems at odds with the military mentality on board the Teddy R. He thinks only of the end results - cold, hard profit - and the story that comes from this helps flesh out Cole's personality and morals even more than in the previous books. He thinks nothing of putting the ship up against odds others would scoff at, but with his contacts throughout the Inner Frontier he is almost second to none in acquiring jobs for Cole and the crew.
It is through Copperfield that we meet the Platinum Duke, owner and ruler of Singapore Station, a vast space station free of any law but his and home to thousands of humans and aliens. The Platinum Duke is a human with many modifications and augmentations, his appearance giving him his name. He's a fresh new character that brings a new dimension to the series, giving a deeper glimpse into life on the Inner Frontier. He helps Cole get new jobs and with his knowledge he is able to advise what they may be up against, an invaluable resource for the Teddy R.
We've still got the main characters - Cole, Sharon, Forrice and Val - and now some of the other crew members of the Teddy R are starting to come into their own. I feel so comfortable in reading their exploits and can often see where things are going, but never quite imagining just how Cole will deal with the situations they are in.
It's an excellent story because of the characters, but I was slowly starting to feel that there are no surprises in store. Cole always manages to think his way out of any given situation and the tensions starts to suffer because of this. However, Resnick, to his credit, has written a military space opera that reads well and has plenty of fast action sequences, but it's not a full military SF series. This is good, mainly because the pace is never slowed by over thought space battles or missions and doesn't get bogged down in unnecessary detail. The ending also throws up some surprises and it left me grinning from ear to ear the way a good novel should.
At the midpoint of the series I just can't wait to see how the final two novels pan out and I'm putting Mike Resnick right up there with authors that I will read without hesitation. Pick them up!!