February 2004
2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Kris Longknife - Mutineer by Mike Shepherd
Ace / Penguin Putnam PPBK: ISBN 044101142X PubDate: 02/01/04
Review by Madeline Yeh

400 pgs. List price $ 7.99
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This novel retells the fairy tale in which the youngest son of a king goes out to seek his fortune with a magic ring and a faithful friend, though the story has been changed slightly. The main character is not a prince, nor a son, but the daughter of the prime minister, who is aided by a personal computer and accompanied by her loyal sidekick Tommy. Kris Longknife has joined the Navy looking for a life away from the family fame and business. Kris Longknife's father is prime minister of her planet, her grandfather was prime minister, her great grand fathers and great grandmothers have stamped their names and personalities in the histories.

The story starts out with Kris and her brave marines parachuting into an isolated house to rescue a kidnapped child. This not so routine mission is successfully carried out despite equipment failure, and an unexpectedly well equipped and organized opposition. Then Kris and Tommy are sent off to join a humanitarian mission. Here Kris really comes into her own as she blithely cuts through and maneuvers around the bureaucrats. Then its back to her ship and further problems. All of these adventures are complicated by her family, its history, political maneuvers and a vast conspiracy.

This is a very enthralling story. Its fast paced in a surprisingly normal world. The cookies are made with Ghiradelli chocolate chips. Politicians run campaigns with confused volunteers. College students drink beer and eat pizza. Sweatshirts are printed with university names. Fashionable clothes come from Paris. There is a refreshing lack of futuristic gadgets and jargon. The children of cooks and accountants and politicians join the Navy to escape the family business. The universe of this story isn't entirely mundane. There are 600 worlds colonized by humans which are tied together by the Society of Humanity. The political conflict is between the lightly populated colonies on one side and Earth and the seven heavily populated planets on the other. The history and politics and technology are revealed in interesting pieces, and its fascinating to try to fit them together. The political setup is refreshing current with presidents and prime ministers, not kings and dukes.

This appears to be the first story from Mike Moscoe writing as Mike Shepherd, and it's set in the same universe as Moscoe's earlier books. They also Serve, First Casualty and The Price of Peace are set in the same universe as Kris Longknife, and precede this book. I've read several and found them to be straightforward Space Opera and a lot of fun, if not to complex. Military good - Politicians bad and other popular notions allow the stories to move along quickly with a minimum of distractions for the reader.

This is a well crafted space opera with an engaging hero and an acceptable universe. The heroine definitely has the deck well stacked in her favor, but is still challenged by the problems she encounters. There aren't idiot plots or idiot situations. The title implies that this novel has ambitions to be the "Midshipman Hornblower" of a very long series, and I hope it succeeds. I'd like to read more.

2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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