Starship: 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
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!!