Avalon

Cover of Avalon by Mindee Arnett. Art by Josh Dutra.
Art by Josh Dutra. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: Avalon

Author: Mindee Arnett

Nutshell: Jethro Seagrave is a teen in a predicament. He and the members of his crew are basically indentured to a crime lord, one Hammer Dafoe. (Dafoe? Really? Okay then.) Hammer uses Jeth and his crew to boost ships, stealing the irreplaceable stardrives within. But when his latest job sends the crew into the most mysterious sector of space to steal a ship with a top-secret weapon, Jethro uses the danger to bargain a deal: He gets to go free on his ship in exchange for the job. Hammer gives his word. All Jethro has to do is give him the ship, and find some leverage to help Hammer keep his promise. The secret on the stolen ship might help with that.

Readalikes: Timothy Zahn’s Dragon and Rider Series is most like this. His Icarus Hunt is also similar, as well as Star Wars books that feature a primarily space-located Han Solo, such as The Han Solo Trilogy and parts of the Jedi Academy Trilogy.Read More »

The Cobra Trilogy

Cover of Cobra Trilogy by Timothy Zahn. Art by Kurt Miller.
Art by Kurt Miller. Click to read a preview!

Title: The Cobra Trilogy (Cobra, Cobra Strike, Cobra Bargain)

Author: Timothy Zahn

Nutshell: The Cobra Trilogy covers three generations of  super-soldier. In the first book, small town boy Johnny Moreau wants to change the odds in the war against an alien menace to the Human worlds. He undergoes surgery to become a super-soldier, with servo-assisted, ceramically strengthened muscles and bones, built in lasers, and an implanted computer loaded with an acrobatic skill set to help drive them. He fights the war with the Trofts, and then afterwards deals with the political ramifications of a segment of the population having been turned into un-retireable weapons.

In the second book, Jonny’s twin sons Joshua and Justin impersonate each other on a covert mission. A planet populated by humans has been discovered far from human-controlled space, but intel suggests they are hostile. The inhabitants don’t seem hostile at first. In fact, they seem unnervingly peaceful. Unsettlingly peaceful.  And a strange bird explorers find on a different planet may hold the key to getting back home safely.

In the third book, Justin’s daughter Jessica is made the first female Cobra and sent to surveil the formerly suspicious planet, but she is unexpectedly shot down. Somehow, as an obvious offworlder in potentially hostile territory, she  must escape the planet. Od course, she thinks she’ll be able to complete her mission on the way.

Read-alikes: Michael A. Stackpole and Jerry Pournelle both write similar planet-based military SF.Read More »

Top Ten: A Wrinkle in Time

Cover of a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Art by Taeeun Yoo.
Art by Taeeun Yoo. Click to read a preview!

Title: A Wrinkle In Time

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Nutshell: Meg Murray has woes. Her father disappeared during a science experiment. Her younger brother is bullied. Her teachers think she cheats. And she is at the age where she is growing into everything, gawky, flyaway, peering at the world through glasses. She wants her father to come home and solve all her problems. She’s about to find out that sometimes instead of being rescued, you have to be the rescuer.

A strange woman comes to visit Meg. The visitor, Mrs. Whatsit, seems to have an uncanny connection to her little brother, and a profound knowledge of Meg’s father. Intrigued, Meg and Charles Wallace meet Mrs. Whatsit and two of her friends at their home to talk about their father.

It turns out, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which aren’t people, and they aren’t from earth. They’re from distant planets, and Meg’s father is trapped out there. The children must travel across the galaxy to save him.

Readalikes: The Space Trilogy, by C. S. Lewis, is like this. Very like. The Giver, by Lois Lowry and the Matched Trilogy by Allie Condie are the closest of the dystopias to the dystopia section. Read More »

Top Ten: I Jedi

Cover of I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole. Artwork by Drew Struzan.
Artwork by Drew Struzan. Click to read a preview!

Title: I, Jedi

Author: Michael A. Stockpile

Nutshell: Corran Horn’s wife has been kidnapped. Ordinarily he would go rushing off after her, swoop in to her rescue, and they would kick rear end and take names all the way out of the enemy base. But Corran doesn’t know who kidnapped Mirax or where to find them. The galaxy is a huge place, and only a few New Republic intelligence officers know where she was before she was kidnapped. That information is highly classified, of course.

In addition, there’s some evidence that Mirax was kidnapped by someone who thought she was associated with the Jedi. Which means it might take a Jedi to rescue her.

So Corran joins Luke’s Jedi academy, to connect with the Force and his Jedi heritage. But soon he discovers that being Luke Skywalker isn’t his destiny. If he’s going to save Mirax, he’s going to have to be a Jedi on his own terms.

Read-alikes: Just about any other Star Wars book is like this one, especially the X-wings series. I also think Timothy Zahn’s Night Train to Rigel and series is similar.Read More »

Top Ten: The Icarus Hunt

A strange spaceship over a planet.
Click to read an excerpt!

Title: The Icarus Hunt

Author: Timothy Zahn

Nutshell: Jordan McKell is a small-time smuggler for a crime lord. It’s not an ideal line of work, but it pays the bills. He’s between smuggling runs when he gets approached for a regular shipping job. Since he’s supposed to be an out-of-work shipper in between runs, he does what any good out-of-work cargo hauler does: he takes the job. He’ll explain it to the crime lord later.

The job does have a couple of oddities. First, the cargo is an entire ship, so he’ll have to fly it. Second, the ship is one of the ugliest, worst-designed ships in the galaxy. Third, he isn’t allowed to choose a crew. Besides his own partner, he has no say in the choice of crewmembers that are helping him. Fourth, there is something fishy going on. This small freight job might be a lot more like smuggling than he was planning. And fifth, one of the crewmembers is dead.

Read-alikes: Michael A. Stackpole’s science fiction is quite similar, as is Aaron Aliston’s. Avalon, by Mindee Arnett has many of the same features.Read More »