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.

—–

3.5 Stars

Serengeti by J.B. Rockwell

SerengetiSerengeti

by J.B. Rockwell
Series: Serengeti, #1

Kindle Edition, 288 pg.
Severed Press, 2016

Read: February 7 – 8, 2016


Serengeti is the AI that runs/inhabits a Valkyrie class warship. She and the rest of the fleet of the Meridian Alliance are hunting for ships belonging to the Dark Star Revolution. Sadly, the hunt finds them — but the DSR ships were waiting for them. The ensuing battle doesn’t go well for the Alliance — and Serengeti barely survives, and the crew aboard her is decimated.

They escape the scene of the battle, but don’t end up where they’re supposed to be — and so Serengeti begins her trek to return to the fleet, limping along while hoping her remaining crew in the lifeboat will make it. She and a couple of repair robots make the long, limping journey alone — relying only on each other, some surprising ingenuity and hope to make it.

To help her — both for companionship and because she needs some better help, Serengeti upgrades a robot friend and the two quickly learn to rely on each other for moral support, encouragement and basic needs. It’s a pretty cool story in that way, and not one I can remember seeing anything like before. It’s like the Firefly episode, “Out of Gas,” starring a non-bickering C3-PO and R2-D2. But not at all, really.

There’s some humor, a lot of heart, and some good SF action to be found in these pages. I’m not sure what else to say without spoiling it, so I’ll keep this brief. This is a solid SF adventure with some surprisingly sympathetic AI protagonists. It’s the first of a duology — and I fully intended on getting my hands on part two pronto.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for this post — I appreciate it.

—–

3 Stars