Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Forsaken Skies, by D. Nolan Clark

Orbit Books, ISBN 9780316355698, September 2016

Humanity has colonized about a hundred star systems, and found no signs of intelligent alien life. Now a low-value colony on a barely-terraformed world, Niraya, is under attack, and the "poly" (corporation) that owns it has decided it's simply not worth defending from whatever other poly is attacking it. Its inhabitants aren't ready to lay down and die, yet, though, and they dispatch Elder McRae and Aspirant Roan to Hexus, the nearest major apace station, to seek help.

They first make contact with a Navy officer, Auster Maggs, who promises he can bring them help. Unfortunately, he can't, and doesn't intend to. He has a different agenda.

At this point, Hexus traffic control officer Tannis Valk, and Aleister Lanoe, a legendary retired Navy fighter pilot who came here chasing a young pilot fleeing for his own reasons, accidentally become involved. It's not long before Lanoe, Valk, Maggs, the young pilot Thom, and old comrades from Lanoe's past are on their way to Niraya with McRae and Roan. They've got four pilots and an engineer to fight off an unknown attacker with far greater resources.

And they don't even have a clue yet what they're really up against. They're about to have their first contact with alien minds.

This is servicably done space opera.  There could be more background on past interactions among characters we know have lots of history together, but the basic character development is pretty good. The plot moves well overall, and what's really going on is, I think, pretty interesting. The Maggs sublplot I felt fell a little flat.

What happens with the Valk subplot is very, very interesting.

Overall, a good, solid read that will not likely be nominated for any major awards. It is the first of a trilogy, but it does come to a real and satisfying end for this story.

If any site I'll be posting this on allowed half-stars, I'd give it 3.5 stars.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.