Book Cover
Title Starliner
Series ---
Author David Drake
Cover Art ---
Publisher Baen - 1992
First Printing Baen - 1992
Category Space Opera
Warnings None

Main Characters

Ran Coville, Wanda Holly, Commander Kneale, Lady Scour, Belgedes, Wade

Main Elements Aliens

Finest passenger liner in the galaxy —

Brightest link in the chain that binds the starflung civilization of the 23rd century—

Six thousand lives in a single hull, trembling through multiple universes to land on raw, often violent worlds, each with its own history and wonder —

The Empress of Earth

Neutral pawn in an interstellar war!

When hostile necessity knows no law, Ran Colville and the rest of the complement of the Empress of Earth must bring home their ship and the passengers entrusted to them. From the Captain on his bridge to the Cold Crewmen who work in conditions that differ from Hell only by name, they'll have their work cut out for them this voyage!

I downloaded this book for free from the Baen Free Library and its one of the few that still remain available there.

My first reaction was to how many typos were in the book, sometimes making it hard to figure out what the sentence was trying to say. But it was free, so won't complain too much

My next reaction was that it was slow. Nothing really happens for a good chunk of the book. Usually this doesn't bother me but for some reason stood out this time. It was still interesting to read about the daily going on of the staffside crew of the Empress and all the rich and arrogant passengers they need to appease, plastering on a charming smile and trying to convince them they would be much happier with this other room...but I dunno, just didn't work for me this time.

On the positive there were a lot of suprises amongst the passengers, especially towards the end (the last third was pretty exciting in fact). Not everyone is who they seem, and some people are exactly what they claim even if no one believes them. The main characters were interesting enough, but there were some weird moments with Ran, like when he was reliving his father's actions during one of many wars.

The idea of Sponge Space was fascinating, not that this was something new, but just the way it was described, and the Cold Crewmen that had to tend the ship outside the hull while in this alternate universe and the effect it had on them. I'd have read the book just for that.

I also enjoyed the descriptions of the starships landing on the various planets, and the different effects the different atmospheres had when the engines made contact.

At times I had to cringe at the blatant racism, not of the author, but of the characters. The author does put it in a bad light. But it was clear the "good" planets were colonized by Germans, etc, and the bad ones where the near slave labour came from were colonized by Asian countries. Somehow didn't see right, why even have colonies by country? Then again, given the world as it is now, should we be suprised the future may be like this?

So for a free book, I enjoyed it, it passed the time on my commute to work, and there were a couple times I was reluctant to get off at my stop, I so much wanted to see what would happen next. And the more I write this review, the more good points I see, it just wasn't there in the first part of the book.

Posted: June 2015


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