Thursday, February 23, 2017

Libre (Silver Ships #2), by S.H.Jucha (author), Grover Gardner (narrator)

Audible Audio, January 2016 (original publication July 2015)

The Méridiens of the ship Rêveur have returned to Confederation space with their new allies, the New Terrans, expecting to be welcomed delightedly after their long absence and presumed loss. Instead, they find that the same silver ships that nearly destroyed Rêveur have destroyed half the Confederation, and the surviving Méridiens have no plan except to flee, abandoning their long-settled worlds.

This plan does not sit well with the crew of Rêveur, neither her surviving Méridien crew nor her new captain, Alex Racine, and his fellow New Terrans. Having proven the silver ships can be fought, they want to take the fight to the enemy. To do that, though, they need help, resources and volunteers who will have to come from the Méridiens, who for the most part don't believe either that fighting can be effective, or that killing is ever justified.

But Confederation society has a dark secret--a whole prison colony of "independents," people unwilling to conform to peaceful, prosperous, but mostly quiescent Confederation society.

A whole planet of independent free thinkers.

This is good, old-fashioned, space adventure, with battles with aliens, ingenuity, derring-do, and culture clashes among the different societies--the Confederation culture of most Méridiens; the "independents" of Libre, and the new society that's forming on Rêveur, blending the customs and viewpoints of both New Terrans and Méridiens, constructing a new culture capable of fighting the threat to all humanity that the silver ships represent. There's lots of danger, challenges, on-the-fly can-do engineering...

What's different from "the good old stuff" is that Jucha is writing from the social assumptions and dynamics of the 2010s, not the 1950s. Or 1930s. Both smart characters and stupid ones, good and bad, come in both male and female, as well as the range of ethnic options represented in the populations of New Terra and the Confederation. in a way that feels natural and realistic.

It's just a good, solid, enjoyable story, with pretty good characters and world-building. Both have gotten stronger since the first book, The Silver Ships, although Alex Racine is still improbably capable. Overall, this is a lot of what I want when I wish for some of "the good old stuff," without the baggage that makes me hesitate to pick up a Golden Age old favorite for fear it won't be as good as remembered.

Recommended.

I bought this book.