Spaceside (Review): Hard-boiled interstellar intrigue

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RATING: 🔭🔭🔭🔭🔭🔭🔭 (7/10)

The specter of technologically enhanced human beings has always been fertile ground for speculation among scientists and fiction writers. It has been in the past and will continue to bear fruit, especially with the way modern science has expanded the possibilities. In the universe of Michael Mammay’s military sci-fi novel, Spaceside (Harper Voyager), the enhancement du jour comes in the form of genetically modified humans with selected alien characteristics.

In Spaceside, the hard-boiled Army colonel Carl Butler returns, this time as a civilian, albeit with an infamous past and a wicked dose of PTSD. Having wiped out an entire planet weighs heavily on him. Fortunately for him, like many high ranking ex-military men, he’s transitioned to the private sector, working as a security consultant for a private firm. It’s a far cry from his glory days, but it’s a job that pays well and not too involved. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to have been in on the email chain announcing his retirement.

Butler’s boss calls on him to investigate a breach into the company’s ultra-secure computer network. What should be relatively low danger exercise ends up with a dead body and the colonel dodging bullets from unknown assailants. On top of that, he has the distinct feeling that he’s being followed and, if his past adventures proved anything, it’s that his gut is seldom wrong.

Much like its precursor, Planetside, Spaceside moves at a furious clip. The story and the pages fly by.

As Antoinio says in The Tempest, the past is prologue. Butler’s military exploits on the alien world of Cappa (which he destroyed in Planetside) have dragged him back to the fray. A shadowy scientific program, called Project Phoenix, lies at the root of this new round of intrigue. Ironically, it provides Butler with the one thing he desires. Atonement for being a world killer.

Much like its precursor, Planetside, Spaceside moves at a furious clip. The story and the pages fly by. Mammay’s terse sentences and knack for capturing action through the written word don’t hurt. The days of summer beach reads have passed but if there’s another scorching beach-worthy days sneaks in, bring Spaceside with you. Or you could just read it on the train during your morning commute. Whatever works.

WORDS: Brice Marsters

IMAGE SOURCE: Harper Voyager

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