Review by: KEN KORCZAK
Hey if you are going to read space opera it might as well be really good space opera, and SKY HUNTER is some pretty darned good space opera.
It has all the elements you expect from the genre:
* Space ships, star fighters, alien planets, aliens, space stations, cool gadgets.
* Well-handled actions scenes.
* A crisp writing pace that moves smoothly through an expertly-crafted plot.
* Believable characters you will care about and whom you will cheer on.
* A deftly created background featuring planetary systems flung across the vast reaches of interstellar space.
I also give author CHRIS REHER vast credit for inserting a couple of plot twists I never expected. When you read as much space opera as I have over the past 40 years, that’s not easy to do. Furthermore, some of these turns make this book relevant to issues we are concerned about today. That adds immediacy and relevancy to the narrative.
One of the unexpected departures relates directly to a certain terrible situation which is an ongoing in our U.S. Military today (although the author is Canadian) – but I’ll say no more because I don’t want to issue a spoiler alert.
So Sky Hunter gets my top recommendation. I encourage all science fiction fans to jump on the entire series. It’s a well-written, professionally edited yarn more than worth your dime and time.
Now let’s have a discussion. Come on, folks, pull up a chair and let’s talk.
Sky Hunter is terrific space opera, but it breaks no molds. Even though it’s all put together well, the “parts” writer Chris Reher leverages are the standard “pre-packaged, off-the-shelf, one-size-fit-all” modules of science fiction.
What do I mean?
Well, there is almost no cutting-edge invention here. There is not a single prop in this book we haven’t seen before, and many times over. The main character, Nova Whiteside, is almost indistinguishable from, say, Kara Thrace (call-sign Starbuck) of Battlestar Galactica. Both are tough-as-nails female fighter pilots who grew up as army brats and are making a go of it in a testosterone-soaked man’s world.
The starfighting “Kites” that Whiteside flies are indistinguishable from the crafts used by Luke Skywalker or the crew of Battlestar Galactica, or any one of dozens of other books, movies or TV shows.
There are space stations and “star gates” or interstellar “jump gates” that have been used over and over again in Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate and other venues. On the surface of a dusty desert-like planet folks get around in “skimmers.” (Sounds familiar, right?)
The background features a federation of planets, just like the federation of Star Trek. There are rebels fighting the intergalactic empires that be. The aliens are barely alien at all and when they are, they’re like those you already know. For example, Reher’s “Caspians” are tall, fur-covered people with big feet – again, sound familiar? About the only thing that seems to separate the Centaurians from Earth humans is that they have remarkable blue eyes.
I mean, so what I’m saying here: This is genre space opera and it is really, really couched safely within the field. It doesn’t boldly go where a lot of other science fictions writers have gone before.
Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with that!
This is the kind of science fiction I cut my teeth on when I was a teenager, and it lead me to a life-long love of the art. Later on the SF acolyte will discover works of amazing innovation and depth – such as a “Gateway” by Frederick Pohl or “Dune” by Frank Herbert or the 4-book-series “Planet of Adventure” by the mighty Jack Vance. (For my money the latter is the best space opera series of all time).
Sky Hunter continues a tradition of Top Gun space adventure that will bring new readers into the joys of the genre.
Your reviewer, Ken Korczak, is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA