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re­leased OUT NOW! 416 pages | Pa­per­back/ebook Au­thor amanda Bouchet Pub­lisher Pi­atkus

When you’re writ­ing a science fic­tion story about a team of mis­fits on a space­ship re­belling against a fas­cist ga­lac­tic regime and your lead char­ac­ter is named Quintessa No­va­light, it’s prob­a­bly fair to say that you’re not re­ally go­ing for “sub­tle”. In­deed, Nightchaser is about as sub­tle as Ge­orge Lu­cas do­ing some retroac­tive CGI tin­ker­ing.

That’s not to say it’s un­like­able, how­ever. While its premise may be a melange of Fire­fly, Dark Mat­ter, Star Wars and a mil­lion other space op­eras, Nightchaser does have an in­ter­est­ing crew, a di­vert­ing love af­fair at its heart (fea­tur­ing a guy named Shade who, fun­nily enough, is made up of shades of both Han Solo and Mal Reynolds) and a com­pelling cliffhanger end­ing. But it loses a lot of ku­dos for the fact that bug­ger-all hap­pens for the bulk of the novel, as the team sim­ply sit around get­ting their space­ship re­paired. Sure, there’s some soft porn shoe­horned in dur­ing this slump, but the plot dis­ap­pears up an­other ori­fice. Not to men­tion the fact that the au­thor’s flow­ery lan­guage is pure cheese (eyes are never merely eyes: they’re al­ways “lasers” or “bright-blue bombs”… you get the gist).

Sadly, as this is the first part of a tril­ogy, the only meat is in the naughty bits. For the main course we have to wait for book two: let’s hope it’s a feast. Jayne Nel­son

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