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The Kassa Gambit by M.C. Planck
Cover Artist: Gregory Manchess
Review by Ernest Lilley
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765330925
Date: 08 January 2013 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Blog / Show Article /

Australian author M.C. Planck's debut novel, The Kassa Gambit does a fine job with a classic space opera setup and a few new wrinkles. Prudence Fallon is captain of an interstellar freighter hopping from system to system via hyperspace nodes, ever mindful of the cost of fuel and the price of freedom on the edge of a society where liberty is being rapidly eroded in the name of security. But she's seen it before, and as she says, sooner or later there will be ovens for the ones that don't fit the new order. If she thought a nosey navy was her biggest problem, she hasn't seen the devastation she's about to drop in on at Kassa, an ag world that's just been wiped off the star map by what looks like alien invaders. Except everyone knows there aren't any aliens. Then she'll have to deal with Kyle Daspar, a cop whose armband says he's a member of the League in good standing...but who shows glints of humanity under the facist facade. They could both use a friend, and they'd make a great team, but in a trust no one society it's hard to look past hard earned paranoia.

From official release/information:

Product Description: Centuries after the ecological collapse of Earth, humanity has spread among the stars. Under the governance of the League, our endless need for resources has driven us to colonize hundreds of planets, all of them devoid of other sentient life. Humanity is apparently alone in the universe.

Then comes the sudden, brutal decimation of Kassa, a small farming planet, by a mysterious attacker. The few survivors send out a desperate plea for aid, which is answered by two unlikely rescuers. Prudence Falling is the young captain of a tramp freighter. She and her ragtag crew have been on the run and living job to job for years, eking out a living by making cargo runs that aren't always entirely legal. Lt. Kyle Daspar is a police officer from the wealthy planet of Altair Prime, working undercover as a double agent against the League. He's been undercover so long he can't be trusted by anyone—even himself.

While flying rescue missions to extract survivors from the surface of devastated Kassa, they discover what could be the most important artifact in the history of man: an alien spaceship, crashed and abandoned during the attack.

But something tells them there is more to the story. Together, they discover the cruel truth about the destruction of Kassa, and that an imminent alien invasion is the least of humanity's concerns.

(Source: Tor Books)

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