Monday, November 14, 2016

Seas of Ernathe (Jeffrey A. Carver)

Seas of Ernathe
(The Star Rigger series)
Jeffrey A. Carver
Laser Books
Fiction, Sci-Fi
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: Star pilot Seth Perland arrives at the colony world of Ernathe as part of a two-pronged mission. The native Nale'nids, or "sea people", used to leave the colonists and their plankton harvesting ships in peace, but lately they've been interfering in strange, potentially deadly ways - and nobody can figure out how to communicate with them. The disruption has far wider consequences; Ernathe's plankton may hold the key to rediscovering the trick of star-rigging, using a pilot's own mind to navigate the Flux of hyperspace for faster, more reliable interplanetary travel... and with interstellar war on the horizon, rigging could well mean the difference between survival and extermination for humanity. What Seth finds is not at all what he expects, but this is a mission he cannot afford to fail.

REVIEW: This was the first novel Carver wrote, though chronologically it occurs centuries after his other Star Rigger novels - he himself notes that this will wreak havoc with any attempts to organize and number the series in any meaningful manner. Being a first, and written so long ago (in 1976), it unfortunately shows its age. We have the stock characters of the star pilot outsider coming to a somewhat skeptical and insular colony, the "primitive" natives growing restless, a cast of characters that, despite lip service and occasional token nods being given to women having important jobs, is overwhelmingly male, and the beautiful Nale'nid who bonds with Seth and only just stops shy of the cliche line of "show me more of this strange Earth thing called kissing" during their inevitable affair. Having read other Star Rigger books, I guessed at some of the secrets behind the Nale'nids far before the characters clued in, which made for some frustration. Carver excels at creating detailed scenes and worlds, and his concept of star rigging and the Flux make for some nice twists. Unfortunately, his characterization suffers somewhat, as does the plot, which feels a little stretched. It's worth reading if you enjoy Carver's Star Rigger universe, though I'm not sure it holds up on its own otherwise in this day and age.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Star Rigger's Way (Jeffrey A. Carver) - My Review
Dune (Frank Herbert) - My Review
A Fire Upon the Deep (Vernor Vinge) - My Review

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