The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt

Read August 2020
Recommended for fans of Suzanne Palmer, The Expanse
 ★     ★    ★    ★    1/2

“You know I am, at heart, a pragmatist. That’s why I seek chemical assistance to have less pragmatic experiences.”

This was a non-pragmatic experience, a decidedly enjoyable one that was a steady crescendo of adventure and action. I devoured it as best I could around work and sleep, being careful to not read before bedtime. I’m excited to go on to the next.

““Fair enough. I’ll go with you. I’m a little curious to find out what’s in this box myself.” “Spiders or gold, spiders or gold,” Ashok said.
“Oh, Ashok. It’s like you never even consider the possibility of golden spiders.”

This is the story of the White Raven (“a fast cruiser just big enough for her crew of five people (or four, or maybe six, depending on how you defined “people”) and her crew, captained by Callie, licensed investigator for the Trans-Neptune Authority, one of the large deep space political organizations. She and the crew take odd jobs for the Authority, and are on their way back from a job when they run into an ancient space wreck. When they investigate in hopes of salvage, they discover Dr. Elena Oh in cyrosleep and are able to successfully revive her. She was a member of one of the expeditions that left a dying Earth nearly 500 years ago in hopes of finding a habitable planet, but has instead found aliens. But is Dr. Oh talking about a new alien species? Or the squid-like Liars, who were responsible for sharing technology with Earth that has allowed them to colonize further out?

“Ticking clock!” Ashok said. “Action and excitement!”

This was fast and furious space adventure, with some unpredictable elements. There’s only one known alien species, the Liars, so named for their seeming inability to tell the truth about basic history or events, but who have been acceptable trade partners for technology. It’s an interesting angle to interspecies communication that doesn’t get the full exploration it deserves; it’d probably be interesting to read a book strictly around that concept. However, Pratt does perfectly well with it as a backstory as well. Aliens, space pirates, expedition ships, alien remnants–there’s a ton of fun stuff here. There’s also a romantic angle to the story that may or may not work for some.

Characters are interesting, and achieve a fair amount of individuality (depending on how you describe it) for a medium sized-cast. Callie; Stephen, the doctor; Drake and Justine, the navigator and engineer; Shall, the A.I. ship; Ashok, the enthusiastic human who is well on his way to making himself into a cyborg. They end up joined by Dr. Oh and Lantern in the course of their adventures. They are a little bit role driven, but that’s okay; they each play it well. Ashok ends up being a bit of the comic relief, much like Kizzy the mechanic on “A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.” 

“I like him. He must be good for morale.”
“Insofar as he gives the rest of us a single person to focus our annoyance on, he absolutely is.” Callie sighed.”

It’s one of those kind of books that I read a bit too fast the first time through, so I skim over some of the details. I get the feeling there’s a little hand-wavy stuff about the physics, which doesn’t bother me at all. Consider me your friendly neighborhood reader: all I need is semi-plausibility.  This reminds me a great deal of the kind of fun I had reading the Finder series, or A Long Way…, and was actually more fun for me than most of the Expanse books. It was $1.99 on Amazon when I last checked, so I feel like I got a bargain.

“When I stormed out of my father’s house thirty-five years ago, I told him my ambition was to travel so far the sun would be invisible, not even a speck among the stars.” Stephen paused. “The young are very stupid, aren’t they?”
“They are. I’m not sure the old are any better, though.”

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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4 Responses to The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt

  1. Morgan says:

    Great review…looks intriguing 🙂

  2. alicegristle says:

    Ya, it’s a funny thing about plausibility! I used to be strictly in the “everything has to make sense and be historically correct” school of thought, but these days I find myself slipping, increasingly, and to my pleasure. 😀 Having said that, though, if the mood’s not right I still get a flippin’ fit if I spot a poorly-done hand-wave…

    • thebookgator says:

      I can’t remember where I first ran into the idea, but it was quite a revelation to realize that the line between ‘advanced’ science and fantasy at certain points is extremely thin! In this book, super-aliens have managed to manipulate gravity (much like many ships do in sci-fi, only to a more extreme degree). Which is pretty much ‘magic,’ as our species currently understands the universe 🙂 But if it’s used in a consistent and logical way, I’m cool with that.

  3. Pingback: The Forbidden Stars by Tim Pratt | book reviews forevermore

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