Posts Tagged ‘steve wheeler’

Move over Star Wars! This is a superb space opera. Humans and hybrids and strange new creatures fight for survival on Earth and across the galaxies. A superb space adventure from a fresh new voice. In our future worlds the Administration rules the Sphere of Humankind, the Games Board sanctions and funds wars and conflicts, and the Haulers’ Collective roams the space routes like the caravanners of old. Marko and his crew of fellow soldier-engineers are sent to investigate an unknown planet. When they encounter strange artefacts and an intelligent but aggressive squid species, they are forced to embark on a perilous journey far from the Sphere. they will have to survive not only other alien encounters but also their own Administration’s deadly manipulations. Political factions and galactic media moguls vie for power … and money.

HarperVoyager Australia

Purchased from an Amazon Reseller

Reviewed by Jacqui

I suppose that’s what you get when you read an on-going series out of order. I read Onyx Javelin first, and I was confused when Marko and the Basalt crew turned up with little introduction. Well, here is the start of their story and it’s a good one. It begins on Nova Hawaii where a deep-sea survey identifies underwater ruins. Then the R&R base there is attacked by strange aliens from out of the sea…

Some of the characters, especially Captain Longbow, felt underdeveloped. Wheeler’s prose is not the best; it doesn’t always flow, and is occasionally stilted. But, I can forgive those flaws for the sheer exuberance of the author’s science fiction creativity that bursts from page after page.

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Onyx Javelin

We met Steve Wheeler at Reconnaissance (the 2015 National SF&F Convention), and he proved to be a very interesting person, with an unusual approach to military SF – he makes detailed models of the craft in his books, and photographs them, often in natural landscapes. Then he employs them in his writing. When he told me to go ahead and read this, the third book in his SF series, without having read the other two, I took him at his word. Now, I’m not so sure that was a good idea. It was fine for the first few chapters, populated mainly by new characters, but as more and more older characters were introduced who had been developed in the previous books, I found myself floundering. There are a lot of characters here, in at least three main casts; the people of the distant human colony Storfisk, the crew of the carrier Haast, and the crew of Basalt.

It’s a complex universe, too. Humanity is divided into several major factions, disputes are settled by war games, and who knows who’s doing what to whom… Then there are these vicious aliens called Urchins, who are in conflict with humanity, along with their inscrutable octopoid masters. And then are ACEs, Artificially Created Entities, often cybernetically enhanced, and in humanoid, animal or more exotic forms – yes, we can have dragons! One clever idea is the use of soul-savers – which allow characters to survive certain death, and be reincarnated immediately into a mechanical chassis or grow a new biological body. This feature, together with the range of possible character types and factions, and the great depth of detail, would make Wheeler’s universe an excellent setting for role-playing games.

The plot focuses on events on the Storfisk colony world, and its invasion by some very nasty alien predators. There’s plenty of action, a dose of mystery, and some scenes of truly memorable beauty, amid a great deal of carnage and destruction. I have to admit that I found Wheeler’s prose a bit awkward at times, forcing me to stop reading while I figured out what he was saying, thus breaking the flow. And I would like to have seen a bit more of the titular Onyx Javelin.

Steve Wheeler might not be the most elegant of writers, but he is a wonderful imagineer. The depth and detail of his future galaxy is truly impressive. And I’m thinking that I was right, and this really was the novel that should have received the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel award.

Harper Voyager

Purchased at Reconnaissance

Reviewed by Jacqui