Friday, April 14, 2017

James Review -- Weird Space: The Star of the Sea

This week I decided to review Weird Space: Star of the Sea by Una McCormack. 

The story begins weeks after Delia Walker entered a Weird portal on Stella Maris and an attack by the Expansion, humanity's primary government, intended to contain a secret known by some of the people on Walker's ship. Stella Maris is unique in containing a long peaceful joint settlement of humans and Vetch, a species humanity fought a long war with, though their primary government's are now loosely allied against the Weird. Stella Maris is also the only known world with a Weird portal where the Weird have aided the inhabitants rather then attempting to absorb or enslave them. 

Soon after the story begins, a young woman named Cassandra, who appears to be around fifteen years of age and claims to be the daughter of Delia who was pregnant when she entered the Weird dimension, arrives. The Expansion is sending a scientific team to study the portal as well and try to discover what makes Stella Maris different from other worlds affected by the Weird. Cassandra claims she is on a mission that requires her to travel to the heart of the Expansion and she departs with Failt, a young Vetch rescued by the Walker party before they reached Stella Maris, and pilot Vale on board the Baba Yaga, once the Walker party's ship. 

Vale is a fugitive in the Expansion and on Capital Station, the primary hub between the Expansion and the independent Satan's Reach, which contains Stella Maris, Cassandra and Failt rescue her after she is captured by Expansion bounty hunters. Cassandra reveals that contact with the dimension inhabited by humanity and the Vetch split the Weird hive mind in two. One section wishes to absorb and destroy humanity and the Vetch while another, responsible for the portal on Stella Maris, wishes to peacefully co-exist with the native species. But the hostile Weird are preparing to attack the heart of the Expansion and Cassandra's mission is to prevent the attack. Despite the risk, Vale joins Cassandra on her journey while Failt returns to help the settlers on Stella Maris where the Expansion scientific mission has become an occupation using the excuse of a virus to segregate the Vetch and a guerrilla resistance is preparing for battle.

There is also a subplot following Maxine Lee, an agent of the Bureau, the intelligence organization which rules the Expansion in all but name, as she draws closer to some of her organization's darkest secrets...

I give this book 7 out of 10. The main characters are fairly interesting and it does a good job explaining the key events that led to this point. The book's biggest issues are that it is too short and needs more action badly. It would have benefited greatly from another hundred or so pages to fill in more details, especially concerning the events occurring on Stella Maris after the Baba Yaga departed. In my opinion, the story would have benefited greatly from some more combat scenes, and Stella Maris was the perfect chance to add them but too much of the fighting is skimmed over rather than being covered in detail.

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