Mindjammer by Sarah Newton
It is the second age of Space…
In the seventeenth millennium, the New Commonality of Humankind is expanding, using newly discovered faster-than-light travel to discover lost worlds colonised in the distant past. It’s a time of turmoil, of clashing cultures, as civilisations shudder and collapse before the might of a benevolent empire ten millennia old.
In the Solenine Cluster, things are going from bad to worse, as hyper-advanced technologies destabilise a world in chaos. Thaddeus Clay and his SCI Force special ops team are on the trail of the Transmigration Heresy. What they find is something beyond even their imagining – something which could tear the whole Commonality apart…
Centuries have passed since a huge galactic diaspora that scattered the human race across the far flung reaches of the universe. In fact, so much time has passed that when the descendants of these civilizations begin to reconnect with one another they have diverged quite considerably. The plot of Mindjammer uses this as a jumping off point to explore the problems that arise when conflicting ideals/philosophies meet their polar opposite.
The four members of the SCI Force team are a veritable who’s who of sci-fi action hero archetypes. Their leader. Dr. Thaddeus Clay, is intelligent, just a little enigmatic, driven and curious. Jackson Stark is a highly disciplined killing machine damaged by the mysteries in his murky past. Max Proffitt (I do love these names) is a combat pilot/loudmouth and finally Lyra Da Luz, the team’s resident tech wizard. I immediately warmed to them all, their characters were pitched just right. I have to confess a bit of soft spot for Max in particular, always fun to have a bolshie, roguish type along for the ride. Can’t go wrong with a lead character that is all about the attitude and doing things his own way. Especially if his own way tends to invariably be wrong and cause more trouble than anything else.
There are some blistering action set pieces in this novel. At various points throughout the narrative the members of SCI Force find themselves in the midst of epic planet-spanning battles as well as violent encounters in the depths of space. When it comes to galactic power struggles this is exactly the sort of thing I’m looking for. I want an awe-inducing sense of scale, I want explosions so large they make my head spin, I want to be wowed. I’m glad to say that Mindjammer certainly delivers when it comes to spectacle. Put it this way, entire cities, and in certain cases planets, get absolutely trashed.
I don’t read a huge amount of science-fiction and being casual reader of the genre leads me to my only real criticism. Some of the exposition was quite technical and a bit too in-depth for my personal taste. I have to admit that certain terminology was lost on me. That said I’m sure a more seasoned sci-fi fan would likely have no trouble with this at all.
That relatively minor quibble aside, I had a lot of fun with this novel. The settings are all suitably exotic, and the group dynamic between the various team members keeps things moving alone at a good pace. Newton excels when it comes to capturing the frenetic chaos of warfare. Acting as a nice counterpoint to this, the SCI Force investigation into the corruption in the Solenine Cluster adds some extra depth to the plot. Mindjammer reads like a solid introduction into something much larger. There is a suggestion towards the novel’s end that there are more tales of SCI Force still to tell. I certainly wouldn’t be averse to reading more adventures set in this particular universe.
Mindjammer is published by Mindjammer Press and is available now.