Reading science fiction books is a real crap-shoot. My tastes vary by so much I really don’t know what I like – which means I often pick up a book and end up not liking it. These days I usually avoid the franchise books (Star Wars, Star Trek) and leave them for my kids.
So it was a nice surprise to pick up The Kassa Gambit by M.C. Planck at my local bookseller. As I perused the first chapter, a definite Traveller RPG-vibe came through. Look at these excerpts from the first chapter (taken from the Macmillan site linked above):
The Ulysses was a commercial trading vessel, of the smallest economical class, and thus unrated for combat of any kind. But Prudence was a woman of extreme caution and deep paranoia, and thus had made a few modifications. The “mining laser” bolted to the top of the ship was wired in a most unorthodox fashion. It was only good for thirty seconds of operation before something burned out, but two seconds from the amped beam would cut an unarmored ship in half. The left cargo pod carried a rack of missiles. And she had six chaffers bolted to the hull, disguised as auxiliary fuel pods. Hopefully, it would be enough.
“What the hell are we gonna do?”
“We’re going to run.” What she always did when things got bad. Perversely, it was also what she did when things got good. When she’d made enough margins long enough, and had a hold full of high-value trade goods, she would set her crew down in the biggest spaceport she could find and offer them a choice.
Get off, or go Out.
Sometimes they stayed. Sometimes they took their bonus pay and left. Sometimes she found other adventurers, stragglers, wanderers to replace them. And then she would run, hard and fast, hopping from node to node, until either they ran out of fuel or ran into a planet that had the local nodes locked down tight. Then they bartered, bribed, and begged their way into whatever passed for a commercial license in those parts, and started all over again.
The story itself is OK; nothing particularly good nor anything outstandingly bad. I do like a few of the characters, in particular Jorgun who makes me think about how one portrays an idiot savant in Traveller RPG character terms. This is a debut novel for MC Planck so I can only hope he gets better. If he writes more books in this universe I will definitely check them out.