Monday, June 5, 2017

James Review -- Starfire: Imperative

This week I decided to review Starfire: Imperative by Steve White and Charles E. Gannon. 

The story begins years after the end of the war that followed the arrival of the First Diaspora fleet of the Arduans, who had fled their doomed home solar system in sublight vessels long ago. Most of the survivors of the First Diaspora have integrated into the society of humanity and its allies but the Second Diaspora--led by extremist Admiral Amunsit, refuses to acknowledge any non-Arduarn species as sentient, due to their lack of the telepathic link binding the Arduarns--and is pinned behind a blockade in hopes of preventing another war. Meanwhile, a campaign is underway aimed at ending the threat of the raiders of the Tangri Horde which have been attacking every other species they can reach for centuries, and liberate the Zemlixi, members of the Tangri species who are enslaved descendants of ancient agricultural societies conquered by the Horde long before it developed spaceflight.

But Amunsit has managed to turn all the later Diasporas to her cause. Renaming themselves the Kaituni, these fleets launch a massive offensive as the later fleets convert parts of their vessels into kinetic weapons that devastate or destroy of number of worlds and systems in the heart of human space as well as in Orion space, including the Orion capital of New Valkha. Following this, the Second Disapora and their allies launch a massive offensive aimed at eradicating those they consider inferior including the Arduarns who have made peace with the other species they have encountered. Part of the fleets engaging the Tangri begin the long journey back to Alpha Centuari, passing through many of the battlegrounds from the Fourth Interstellar War centuries before en route

Meanwhile a small group of ships that survived the kinetic strikes and the initial Kaituni attacks, including a Pan Sentient Union Intelligence unit based on a converted Arduarn freighter, begins its own path home while trying to gather information on the Kaituni. But as they move and meet other surviving ships, the news grows worse. The remainder of the Orion government and much of what's left of their fleet is destroyed when the system containing the Orion homeworld of Old Valkha falls and the Kaituni are launching strikes aimed at crippling the civilian infrastructure of those worlds they take whose populations aren't eradicated outright. And the artificial Warp Point linking the heart of Orion space to the heart of the human section of PSU space, including Earth has been closed leaving the officers of the small task force to determine the best possible course to save their civilization and its allies.

Meanwhile the lead fleet of the forces returning from the Tangri campaign is devastated when the Kaituni unleash the relativistic acceleration weapon or RAW, a quantum entanglement particle weapon they have developed and nicknamed the Hand of God. While only useful against devastators and super devastators (the two largest types of PSU warships) it can destroy these vessels in a single blow. While the remains of the crippled fleet manage to rally around the second returning fleet led by legendary Admiral Ian Trevayne and his wife Magda, the daughter of his nemesis from the long ago Fringe Revolt. But they soon find themselves in facing a new nightmare as the Kaituni have located the sanctuary of the surviving Arachnids, who were believed to have been wiped out during the Fourth Interstellar War and stirred them into launching a massive armada of their own aimed at the Kaituni target of Alpha Centuari...

I give this book 8.5 out of 10 It had some great battle sequences and very interesting characters on all fronts. That said, there are a few things I think could have been explained better, and some editing errors like multiple spellings of the same names, sometimes with more then one spelling for a name appearing on a single page. Also, one of the hallmarks of the Starfire novels to me has been both sides developing new technologies, ships, and tactics in response to their enemies. While the PSU certainly develops new tactics in response to the Kaituni, you don't see any new technologies and vessels being used by the PSU though there are some new technologies utilized by the Kaituni. And this doesn't effect the score but I personally hope there isn't a counter to the RAW-developed because I find the idea of ship design shifting back in favor of comparatively smaller ships appealing. When your heaviest warships have grown so large that warp points often have to be artificially enhanced to allow them to pass through I feel you are far past the point where you should shift your focus to making better ships rather then bigger ships. 

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