Series: Keiko (#2)
Publisher: Saga Press
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2016
Ichabod Drift has once again bitten off more than he can chew. A supposedly simple job to pick up a passenger from a mining colony has left his crew stranded planetside during a deadly storm. Life on the surface is tough, and that’s before the civil war starts . . .
On the one hand, Mike Brooks’ second Keiko novel is more of the same, but on the other it’s a step up in ever regard. if you haven’t checked out my review of book one, you should do so at the link above, but you don’t actually need to have read Dark Run in order to appreciate Dark Sky. What Brooks has created with this trilogy is something vanishingly rare: A series of multiple books that genuinely stand alone. Yes, there are character arcs that carry on across the two books (and, I assume, into the third) but the main plot is entirely self-contained. All book one lends to book two is a greater appreciation of the characters, and a decent idea of what to expect from this one. There are a lot of series out there that tell a single story over many parts, so it is a delight to hold something truly episodic. In that, it feels like the SF TV shows of my youth. Dip in, enjoy the story, and come out the other side with a big smile on your face. As someone in the middle of several longer, weightier series, this is exactly what I needed to read.
Once again, we join Captain Drift as he accepts a job with a reward that far outstrips its purported difficulty. If you have any idea of how the genre works, you won’t be surprised when things don’t go according to plan. Uragan is the sort of planet I love seeing in science fiction. A bleak little mining colony, it’s survivable, but by no means pleasant. The superstorms that sweep it prove a neat little obstacle for our protagonists, but ultimately the weather is a sideshow to the more human threat.
First of all there is Moutinho, a rival ne’er-do-well with a shared history with Drift. More ships and more crews are always going to be a winner with me, so the rivalry between the two men instantly grabbed me. To an extent, I feel like Moutinho is the more realistic spacefaring rogue, but he proves a neat counterpart to Drift as the story goes on, providing both comedy and genuine threat. But the real danger comes from the rebellion that sweeps Uragan, really kicking off the story. SF has a long history with rebellions, often painting them in a very positive light (cough *Star Wars* cough) so I appreciated Brooks showing us the messier side. Even if they have some valid points about how they are treated, this is a terrorist mob, and very much antagonists. Not that the local authorities are much better though. Drift and his crew are a nice island of (relative) sanity amid all the madness Brooks throws at his world.
Dark Sky is a quick and exciting read, perfect for fans of Firefly, Dark Matter, or any SF with a great cast of characters and a sense of adventure.