Dark and Stars by J.B. Rockwell

Dark and StarsDark and Stars

by J.B. Rockwell
Series: Serengeti, Book 2
Kindle Edition, 406 pg.
Severed Press, 2016
Read: July 6 – 7, 2017

I could’ve done a better job of keeping track of details, but I really thought that Serengeti was on her own a longer than we’re told here. My issues aside, the important thing is that her time alone is over — her sister ships have found her and have brought her to a spaceport for repairs.

She is soon reunited with a crew, and informed about the state of the Alliance Fleet — which is worse than you might think. Following the devastating defeat in Serengeti, the Fleet turned in on itself, spending the intervening years in-fighting, neglecting its mission and the people it’s supposed to protect.

Serengeti‘s recovery has provided the motivation for some to come up with a real solution to the problems within the Fleet. The primary movers here are the ship AIs, with only a little help from the captains/crew. I’d have liked to see more action from humans that aren’t part of Serengeti‘s crew — but, honestly — I barely thought of that until after I was done with the book. Anyway, these ships have a plan that’ll take care of the problems within the Fleet and enable them all to return to what they’re supposed to be doing.

If they can just pull it off.

Next to McGuire’s Aeslin mice, I’m not sure there’s a cuter or more delightful character than Oona, the robot that was created in the last book. Not only is she adorable, she’s very, very clever. Sign me up for a novel about her. The rest of the characters — AI or human — are well-drawn, engaging, and — typically — fun. The Fleet’s admiral and the spokesman for the stealth ships are just dynamite. Maybe, just maybe, we could’ve gotten a little deeper with some of those not aligned with our friends — but the story didn’t require that.

The action is solid, the more imaginative SF aspects are told in a manner that you just buy, with little regard for plausibility or anything (I don’t know, maybe the technologies depicted are plausible). Rockwell takes the solid foundation she laid down in Serengeti and builds on it with a strong adventure story. While I enjoyed all of Serengeti, the most likeable parts were early on, when her crew was still on board. This book gives us that from start to stop (well, with a quick break), with plenty of action and intrigue. There’s still the heart, the great characters — but add in the excitement, camaraderie and intrigue, and this one tops its predecessor.

Disclaimer: I received this novel from the author in exchange for this post — I really appreciate it, but I made up my own mind about it.

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3.5 Stars

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