BOOK REVIEW: Impulse, by Dave Bara

Publisher: Del Rey

Series: Lightship (#1)

Genre: Military SF/Space Opera

Pages: 372

Publication Date: 2015

Centuries after a devastating war, humanity is starting to rebuild civilisation.

Peter Cochrane, a young nobleman fresh from the naval academy, has been assigned to the ship that recently lost some of its crew, including his own girlfriend.

Searching for answers following an unprovoked attack, Cochrane finds himself thrust into the unfamiliar world of diplomacy, and learns that ancient grievances may not be as dead as he once believed . . .

There is a thin line between Space Opera and Military SF. Like so many stories, Impulse crosses that line freely. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but while it’s a decent Space Opera, this novel is less successful as Military SF.

Let’s focus on the positives, and that’s the worldbuilding. You won’t find anything new or remarkable here, but the classic elements are pulled together tightly and effectively. The Historians put me in mind of Asimov’s Foundation, guarding technology and lore for their own purposes. The Sri, while less developed, are no less interesting. I hope further instalments show them in more detail, and to be less one sided than their appearance here.

The political dealings Cochrane is forced into are typical of the genre, and at times feel contrived. Cochrane’s swift agreement to a marriage proposal is generally indicative of the simplicity of the politics on show.

And that leads to the main issue. For a fresh faced academy graduate in mourning for his first live, Cochrane is quite the ladies’ man. It’s his blossoming romance with a coworker that I found most troubling. Surely, there are regulations regarding sexual relations between officers on active duty.

This lack of cohesive command structure is where the military side of things breaks down. The Impulse is a joint taskforce ship, but any friction is dealt with quickly, with a semi-inspiring speech. I personally feel there should have been more to it than that.

In the end, there’s a lot to like about Impulse. Just don’t think too hard about the details.

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