Review of Starship: Rebel by Mike Resnick

SFFaudio Review

Audible Frontiers - Starship: Rebel, Book 4 by Mike ResickSFFaudio EssentialStarship: Rebel
By Mike Resnick; Read by Jonathan Davis
Audible Download – 8 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: December 16th 2008
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Galactic Civilization / Aliens / Rebellion / War / Military SF / Space Station /

The date is 1968 of the Galactic Era, almost three thousand years from now. The Republic, dominated by the human race, is in the midst of an all-out war with the Teroni Federation. Almost a year has passed since the events of Starship: Mercenary. Captain Wilson Cole now commands a fleet of almost fifty ships, and he has become the single greatest military force on the Inner Frontier. With one exception. The Republic still comes and goes as it pleases, taking what it wants, conscripting men, and extorting taxes, even though the Frontier worlds receive nothing in exchange. And, of course, the government still wants Wilson Cole and the starship Theodore Roosevelt. He has no interest in confronting such an overwhelming force, and constantly steers clear of them. Then an incident occurs that changes everything, and Cole declares war on the Republic. Outnumbered and always outgunned, his fleet is no match for the Republic’s millions of military vessels, even after he forges alliances with the warlords he previously hunted down. It’s a hopeless cause…but that’s just what Wilson Cole and the Teddy R. are best at.

A good audiobook can make a regular day enjoyable. A great audiobook can put a delightful spring in your step for a whole week. Starship: Rebel has made for absolutely terrific listening. As I was listening to it over the course of a week or so I’d wake up in the morning, remember that I’d still got a few hours of listening left, and smile as if I’d won the Nobel Prize for luck. I’ve heaped a lot of praise for this terrific series of audiobooks since Audible Frontiers started releasing it back in Spring 2008. The closest I’ve come to criticism has been a little humming and hawing about how the series is ‘short on ideas and originality.’ That, it feels like a better version of Star Wars. And that’s all still true, nothing in the Starship series feels anything like innovative. The weapons technology has no new ideas, the faster than light space travel relies on the same few tropes, the aliens are all Star Wars-ish. Despite this, there is an amazing feeling of being safely ensconced in the hands of a master storyteller when listening to this series. The team of writer Mike Resnick with narrator Jonathan Davis is absolutely stupendous.

With this book, Book 4, Resnick is raising the stakes by forcing Captain Cole and the crew of the Theodore Roosevelt to take on the Republic itself. And that’s good, but it isn’t everything. Resnick also pulls an unexpected maneuver – a very important character is killed about a third of the way into the novel – and that hit, a real hit, shakes up that feeling of familiarity and safety in a way that just freezing Han Solo into a block of carbonite can never do. Barring accidents I expect to be enjoying another terrific week when Starship: Flagship, the 5th and final book in the Starship series, comes out in December 2009.

Posted by Jesse Willis

2 thoughts to “Review of Starship: Rebel by Mike Resnick”

  1. I’ve enjoyed many of the SFF Audio Essentials. And I enjoyed the the first book in the Starship series enough to read a few more, but ultimately, it becomes clear that Mike Resnick is a fish out of water when it comes to writing military science fiction, even light, heroic military science fiction. It isn’t that I expect the Starship series to be gritty and realistic, but the military organization and strategies the characters use should at least not be so utterly defective as to not jar you out of the story, and I found that happened in the series time and time again, which was frustrating because I do like parts of the series and Resnick’s abilities as a story teller..

    I’d suggest readers check out David Drake’s RCN/Lt. Leary series for fun space opera. It has its own problems–the convoluted FTL “sail” system to make the ship handling more like classic sea tales is a bit much–but the series is much more credible overall.

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