Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair
Continuing to set stories in the universe of Gabriel’s Ghost, Sinclair this time at least brings us a different couple.
Philip Guthrie is a former Admiral of the Imperial Fleet, and also Chasidah Bergren’s former husband. Now he’s an Admiral of the Rebel Alliance Fleet (two ships big!), and on his way to pick up the newest ship in said fleet: the titular folly, so named because it was the name given to it by the former owner’s daughter. One of the terms of sale is that the name be kept, the former owner now mourning the death of said same daughter.
Actually, the Hope’s Folly used to be an Imperial battleship, but it was decommissioned and sold off many years ago, and has spent the time since then serving as a cargo ship. So it’s old, and severely out-of-shape, for a ship. Guthrie gets to deal with it because he has dealt with this ship before: it was his first ship, under his first Captain, Cory Bennton. Now he’ll be commanding it, if he can actually make it battle-worthy. And it’s needed badly; in addition to the Imperial fleet, the Alliance has to face a rebel faction that wants to put a long-imprisoned Imperial cousin on the throne.
Of course, this being Linnea Sinclair, there has to be a romantic interest. This time it’s sub-lieutenant Rya “the Rebel” Bennton, late of Calth Starport Security, and before that of Imperial Fleet Security Forces, “Polite, professional, and prepared to kill”. Notice that last name? She’s the daughter of Philip’s first Captain, and she has had a crush on him since he was a young lieutenant himself. Now they’re going to be working together . . . closely, as she has assigned herself responsibility for his safety.
Guthrie feels the age difference more strongly than she seems to. After all, he’s old enough to be her . . . uncle. That fits with the may/december romances I’ve known. I’m actually more concerned with the fact that no one seems at all bothered by the Admiral/Lieutenant fraternization thing. While we know that he’s not sexually harassing her, that should not be so clear to the Alliance Fleet. That said, I kinda like this book. Mildly recommended.
Endless Blue by Wen Spencer
Captain Mikhail Volkov, commander of the Novya Rus militia starship Svoboda is asked to investigate a mystery: the warp drive of a long-lost ship has warped back into human space from parts unknown, embedded in a large chunk of coral and bringing with it a sea-going vessel that used the torpedo of another lost starship as its engine, and a number of dead fish (they may have been alive before they warped into open space). The crew of the sea-vessel were Reds–genetically-altered humans bred for combat in special creches. But none of these Reds have serial numbers, as it were. They aren’t registered, and that isn’t supposed to be possible. Both mysteries must be investigated, and Mikhail is perfect for it: he actually has surface combat experience, unlike most starship captains, he\s creative and able to think outside the box, and he has an in with Reds: his foster-brother,Turk, is one.
When Mikhail and Turk follow the mystery jump-engine’s course backwards, they arrive in a place stranger than they could ever have expected: a world that is a vast bubble of air surrounded by water. So big that it has a sun in the middle of it, and floating islands in the sky. The ship crashes into one of them, and then into the sea, and Turk is lost overboard, though he is rescued by locals. The bubble is populated by the descendants of the ships that have crashed there.
Honestly? This is a complicated story, with features that I haven’t even touched on. Like Mikhail’s father, for example. To give you more than a basic idea of the plot (you can guess from the details above that Mikhail has to find Turk and a way back to normal space) would involve spoilers. Big spoilers. But it’s interesting, and well-written. Recommended.