Starship: Rebel is the fourth book in the Starship series, following on from Mutiny, Pirate and Mercenary. So far the series has gone from strength to strength, building on from each book in a logical and enjoyable fashion. I mentioned in my review of Starship: Mercenary that I felt there were no surprises in store, that everything seemed to go the right way for Cole and the crew of the Teddy R. Starship: Rebel does away with that notion and manages to up the stakes while still delivering a compact and fast paced novel.
Wilson Cole now has a fleet of 50 ships, one of the biggest in the Inner Frontier, and is discovering that finding mercenary work for all crews is proving difficult – having to split the fleet to cover smaller jobs is one of the options that faces him. However, when the Republic Navy capture, torture and kill a member of the Teddy R‘s crew Wilson Cole changes his tactics. He’s had enough of the Navy coming into the Inner Frontier and taking what they want without consequence, now it’s time for the citizens of the Inner Frontier to step up and stop this happening.
Once again Mike Resnick manages to take this series in a new direction, a direction I didn’t think I’d see to be honest. The past three books have been focused on them making a life on the Inner Frontier and avoiding the Republic wherever possible, so to see them taking up arms is great. One of the things I had mentioned previously was that there was no sense of surprise as such in the books, but Rebel really does change that opinion. I didn’t expect the events to turn out as they did and thought that Resnick did a good job of keeping me on my toes while still packing a punch.
New characters also start to take centre stage here. Jacovic, the former commander of the Teroni 5th Fleet (the very same fleet that was involved when Cole mutinied in the first book) has left the Teroni Federation due to their actions and joins Cole, fitting in nicely to their growing fleet. The Octopus is also a new addition to the cast, being the biggest warlord on the Inner Frontier, but pledging his allegiance to Cole after he unknowingly saved his son’s life. Both characters fit in effortlessly to the story and Resnick gives them personality that is hard to dislike. Cole also shows another side to his character and the anger he has towards the Republic is manifested well, taking over much of the book.
Starship: Rebel is another excellent addition to the series and once again shows how successful a sci-fi novel that is light on the science can be. I’d recommend this series without hesitation and feel that for pure entertainment value, you won’t find much better than this. The only question that remains is whether Resnick can successfully bring this series to a close in the final book, Starship: Flagship.