Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Review of STARLINER by David Drake

I just finished reading Starliner by David Drake.

I was browsing the Amazon Science Fiction Top 100 one day and stumbled across Starliner quite by accident.

(As a brief aside, the first three books in my sci-fi series The Go-Kids (PG-13), beginning with A Shadow Passed Over the Son (The Go-Kids Book 1) are also in the Amazon Top 100. Please grab your free copies if you've not done so already, so we can coax those babies up to the Top 10!)

The cool cover for Starliner was arresting: the image of a massive space-faring luxury vessel floating in space.

Plus it was free, so I grabbed it.

I'm glad I did because it turned out to be a heck of a lot of fun. It's got 73 reviews on Amazon and a 3.5-star average.

The story follows the adventures of the Empress of Earth (the name of the ship) and its new 3rd Officer Ran Colville as passengers are ferried through vast interstellar space and between outlying worlds. War between two rival planets is imminent and threatens Ran's maiden voyage.

I won't say more than that because I loathe spoilers, but suffice it to say that hyjinks ensue.

The story felt like an episode of The Love Boat in space. We meet the prominent crew members of The Empress of Earth, as well as some of the passengers, and the story alternates between several separate but interwoven story lines.

I have two criticisms of Starliner:

First, the presentation. The book was originally published by Baen Books in 1992. The conversion to ebook format was obviously done via character recognition software, because it did a very poor job. There are typos, comma splices, and missing periods on nearly every page. At  first I thought David Drake and/or the editors/proofreaders/gofers at Baen were effing stupid. Then I realized the scanning of the printed manuscript is what caused the problems. Nevertheless, they are rampant and the book needs to be converted all over again. It's still readable. Just a bit of a nuisance.

Second, Drake's writing. On his website, he states that he wrote Starliner for himself, which is great. And most of the time the writing is great as well. But occasionally I had difficulty following who was doing what, who was speaking, or who had spoken, and I had to re-read a few sentences.

All in all Starliner is great space opera in the classic tradition. David Drake is a well-known and beloved science fiction author who's been writing for a long time. I will likely investigate his other titles.

I recommend Starliner and give it a solid 4 stars.

If the formatting had been clean, I probably would have given 4.5 or 5.

To purchase Starliner on Amazon, follow one of the links below. As of this writing it is still FREE on Kindle.
Kindle                   Paperback


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