There are many different flavours of science fiction out there to enjoy — if you have the taste for such a thing. They can be loosely categorized into two groups, or of combinations of those two.
The first group is that kind of science fiction which endeavours to seek after a deeper philosophical or scientific understanding, to ferret out profound truths about humanity and about the nature of the universe.
The second group uses the open-ended framework of science fiction much more loosely, to tell fantastical action- adventure stories.
A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe falls almost squarely into the latter group, a modern space opera par excellence.
The first of an ongoing series entitled The Salvagers, the story is nevertheless self-contained. It introduces us to the crew of the Capricious, a loveable a group of rogues that may remind readers of Firefly or Cowboy Bebop.
The bee in their bonnet, at least to start, is a lady named Boots who has sent them on a wild goose chase across the galaxy with one of her many bogus “treasure” maps.
This stings doubly, as she was once a wartime pilot for the captain of the Capricious, and because her bogus map has soaked the crew for the bulk of their yearly operating costs.
As for Boots, she has fallen on hard times. Once she was a hotshot fighter jock, counted among the best her planet produced. When a cataclysmic event wiped out the planet, however, she suffered from severe survivor’s guilt.
In an attempt to reinvent herself in peacetime and acting upon some insider information, she launches a syndicated treasure-hunting show.
Her initial success only makes the subsequent fall that much more pronounced. She now ekes out a meager existence pandering conspiracy stories about lost treasures to the credulous and the trusting.
Sometimes conspiracy stories have some truth to them, however, and one of them comes back to bite her in the posterior.
Also caught up in this conspiratorial web is the professional race-car driver Nilah. While racing all-out to capture the overall points lead, she becomes a witness to the magical assassination of one of her fellow drivers by forces beyond her ken.
Nearly the assassin’s next victim, she barely escapes the racetrack’s perilous confines.
Losing consciousness in escaping, she comes to as a fugitive with frozen assets. Her accounts, all but one, have been blocked from her and she is now wanted for the murder that she witnessed. Worse yet, none of her friends, family, or sponsors step forward to defend her when the fecal matter hits the fan.
Cut off from her support network, she now questions who she can trust. The tendrils of this conspiracy have a long reach and seemingly extend to the highest levels.
Big and brawny, but not always brainy, A Big Ship was still a fun read.
Boasting breakneck action amongst the panoply of a massive and magnificently constructed universe, this series has the potential to be as good as The Expanse series.
If you enjoy chases and explosions, action-intensive sequences and galaxy-spanning star battles with a bit of magic, then this may be a series for you.
If, however, you are searching for in depth philosophical exploration or hard science based inquiries, you may want to look elsewhere.
Jason Wiggins is owner of The Book Place at 248 Third Ave. downtown.