I recently decided to read more local authors, as my town, Calgary, has some great writers. This turned up a gem for me, STARS LIKE COLD FIRE by Brent Nichols. This sci fi opera reads like HORATIO HORNBLOWER in space, combining good pacing and craft with plenty of dramatic tension and some terrific action.
The story begins with Jeff Yi, who graduates from the Naval Academy expecting a junior posting in the Wukan fleet. When he’s attacked by a political gang, it becomes clear he’s a target because of his father. For Yi’s protection, he’s assigned command of the smallest, ugliest ship in the fleet, a guppy-class scout ship, and sent to the deep space of the frontier with Ryland. Along the way, he must contend with a crew that doesn’t respect him due to his inexperience. As war brews, Yi must learn to command, as he will soon face the ultimate test. The Ryland fleet is coming, intent on destroying everything he ever believed in.
This book has all the earnest virtue of a simple story well told. Young naval officer is in over his head and must summon immense resourcefulness to survive a battle with an overwhelming enemy, and then rises to the occasion. The characterization is light but solid, the pacing brisk, the dramatic tension and resulting catharsis well executed, and the action sequences engaging. It’s unfortunate the author didn’t turn this into a series, I think it’d be a winner.