Review of THE FAR SIDE OF THE STARS by David Drake (see his website)
LT. LEARY #3
Baen, October 2003
Peace has broken out and the space navy of the Republic of Cinnabar is being beached on half-pay. After some adventures on Cinnabar, Adele Mundy and Lieutenant Leary, together with most of Leary's old crew, set off in the Princess Cecelia--now decommissioned and sold to a rich couple wanting to explore the distant stars. Adele has her own agenda--working with the Cinnabar spy service, she's interested in determining whether Cinnabar's traditional enemy, the Alliance, may have set up a secret naval base that could be used to launch a surprise attack on Cinnabar.
The cruise takes Leary and the 'Sissies' into a variety of worlds where, after the loss of civilization in the past, humans are clawing their way back to civilization--or continuing to decline into barbarism. But simple exploration transforms into a military purpose when an Alliance cruiser decides to make life miserable for the Sissies and when Leary finds himself accidentally plugged into a sort of global mind.
Author David Drake (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Drake) spins an intriguing space opera. Adele Mundy, in particular, is an interesting character with her political background and her unique skills in manipulating computers. Leary will remind readers of Patrick O'Brien's Jack Aubrey--simultaneously capable as an officer, inspiring loyalty in his men, and oblivious to subtlties of human (especially female) relationships.
THE FAR SIDE OF THE STARS also shared a weakness common in old-fashioned space opera. In particular, I had a hard time swallowing Adele's ability to penetrate foreign computer systems so effectively. Military systems are always targets and an advanced military nation will harden and cordon critical systems.
What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).
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