Bewildering Stories

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Mike Shepherd's Kris Longknife:Mutineer

Kris Longknife:Mutineer
Author: Mike Shepherd (aka Mike Moscoe)
399 pages
ISBN: 0765302624
Price: $6.99

I read my first book by Mike Moscoe a while ago. It was entitled The First Casualty, and was military SF with a difference. It was good enough that I looked around for more stuff by Mike, but not intensively, until I went to RADCON4 last week, and met the man. He was sitting on "Authors' Row" hawking his latest book. Only, it was by "Mike Shepherd" not "Mike Moscoe". Very curious. And he explained why, which I get into, in my editorial, so I won't get into it here. As Mike explained it, he said that he'd been asked to write an "Honor Harrington" type book. Only Mike has a twisted sense of humor, so he wanted to add a touch of "Miles Vorkosigan" to the mix. Did he succeed? Well, yes, kind of. But it works.

Mike is not Lois McMaster Bujold (for which his wife gives thanks, I would imagine), but he has a good sense of pace, in other words, headlong, in telling the story of Kris Longknife. Kris is a child of privilege, with a parents that are the rulers (more or less) of Wardhaven, and grandparents who are war heroes, and still active. Kris, against the wishes of her parents, joins the Navy, and as an ensign, leads a troop of Marines to rescue a kidnapped girl. Things go wrong from the beginning, and only Kris' willingness to suspect everything and make necessary, dangerous, but unobvious decisions, allows her and her troops to be successful.

As we get deeper into the story, we meet Kris' parents. "The Parents From Hell". Oh yes, they love her. Wrapped in cotton batting and brought out for display so that she can make a "good marriage". She is sent on several more forays, and in each, her skills and training is brought to bear and she becomes ever more competent. Then Kris finds that "the plot thickens", and she eventually is put into the position that we knew was coming (after all, we read the title). Various loose ends are brought under control, but so very many threads are left in her universe that we willingly wait (though not happily) for book two (and there will be more) Kris Longknife:Deserter! Doesn't the kid ever get a break? Well, we hope not, not if Mr. (Moscoe) Shepherd will keep writing more of her adventures.

Mike's universe is well thought-out, and surprisingly, at least to me, this book is a continuation of "The Society Of Humanity" series, of which The First Casualty is the first book. A neat conceit in this book are the transforming ships made of "liquid metal". Very neatly handled, and served with a twist of wry.

A surprisingly good read from a very underrated author.

Copyright © 2004 by Jerry Wright