So Wendy, the (I am sure) almost omnipotent and (completely) awesome Super Librarian has Favourite Trope as a TBR Challenge for this month.
And I have a trope that is really more a sub-genre and I totally love with a slightly embarrassed nerd-like love: Space Opera with laughs. (that’s a thing right?) I also LOVE Space Opera (how do people think all those worlds up???) But humourous space-set adventure with zany adventures and weird aliens? Total Blue Castle Cat-nip. (It probably stems from too much Red Dwarf, and re-watches of The Fifth Element when I was younger…)
Now I am a gargantuan Buroker fan, ever since I started and became addicted to her Emperor’s Edge series. She is one of those best things to come out of self publishing, that you occasionally hear about. She writes prolifically and her stories are consistently clever, high quality and funny with a deft light touch.
If you were going to complain about anything it would be the fact that her females characters are always intrepid and clever-in-a-slightly-juvenile-I-like-my-little-ponies-and-rainbows kind of way (NOT that there is anything wrong with that) and her heroes tend towards the stalwart, monosyllabic, brooding anti-hero-that-is-a-hero bent. (Again – I have no issue with this…)
Her world building is fantabulous and very solid and if you like political manoeuvrings in other worlds (or space) and moral conundrums that can be applied cross species – then you should definitely check her out.
Sky Full of Stars takes place in the same universe as a previous Buroker Series Fallen Empire , this series is about the next generation, but you can totally read it with out having to go through the previous series.
Jelena is a Starseer, (magical mind powers of varying degrees), who has finally been given charge of her very own freight run with slightly older big-brother type Erick. In half a book, they accidentally blow up a scientific research station, trying to rescue animals that have been inhumanely treated, inadvertently kidnap an expensive genetically modified super-human female, chase after a childhood friend that leads them straight into intergalactic political war and incur an over-the-top fine for destroying a space docking station …
The second book finds them in the middle of an ethical conundrum whilst trying their hand at being mercenaries (to pay off previously incurred over-the-top fine); and the third instalment has a map, space pirates and a treasure hunt.
she is there aplenty.
Not so much.
But it is LIGHT, and humorous and I feel like we will eventually get there. If you have read any Emperor’s Edge series, the romance there is so EPICALLY slow burn, I feel like I am going to die from agony of suffering the wait, long before any character manages to make any sort of kissy face with another…
But when it happens????
Sky Full of Stars looks like it is shaping up the same way: there is but the merest Joey-nod to a romance in any of the books,
Although the last one does have one particularly good snog….
BUT the thing that makes it best?
Buroker does EXCELLENT Banter; not just between hero/heroine, but between ALL characters, which is awesome
“Can your smart, computer-loving brain convince that panel to let us in?” Jelena asked.
“If not, my smart plasmite torch can.” He tapped the case where he’d secured the weapon.
“You sound like Leonidas.”
“Really? I’d assumed he would just punch his fist into the panel.”
“He would, but it would be a smart fist.”
“You were more polite and less sarcastic before you went away to school,” Jelena said, alternating between watching the approach of the ship and the terrain as she flew over it. “And I thought we discussed that we couldn’t possibly be doing something illicit in a place where there aren’t any laws.”
“I mostly remember discussing swords and capes. And ponies and unicorns….”
“…Because I’m a good friend, I’ll do you a favor and not tell any women you date that you can’t keep from thinking about my underwear.”
“Should I ever find someone to date me, I’m sure I’ll be grateful.”
Thor, striding ahead of them, said nothing.
‘Is he coming with us, or are we all just walking in the same direction? Erick asked…
‘I’m not sure. He didn’t seem to love your lecture. When did you turn into such a responsible grownup, Erick?’
Masika thumped his chest with the back of her gloved hand. “It looks good on you.”
“I know you don’t believe that.”
…“You’re right,” Masika said. “I was trying to head off sulking.”
“I don’t sulk.”
“No? What’s it called when you lock yourself in your cabin for days and don’t talk to anyone?”
“Now you can contemplate glitter.”
I’d appreciate it if you didn’t pester me. I have a dozen problems demanding my attention, and you took all my tool-holding people.”
“I’ll only pester you if we need a heroic rescue.”
“Thor can’t handle the heroics?”
“I’m not sure. It’s possible he feels emasculated by my glitter.”
Thor glared at her. Jelena smiled.
It’s also nice to read and watch Jelena mature throughout the series; to start relying more on her own instincts, to grow a solid moral core of definite things she will and won’t do. The books take place pretty much one-after-the-other, and the amount of real time for each adventure is usually about a week or so…. which, if you think about it in any sort of intense way, begs belief a little bit. But come on – it’s a SPACE ADVENTURE – nothing is supposed to be thought of that intensely!
The characters are all young (18 through to early 20s), but not in a super noticeable-glaring-generation-gap kind of way. And the only thing that got very slightly on my space nerves is that Thor (brooding hero extraordinaire) can read other people’s minds through these mind powers. NOTHING ever surprises him – and he ALWAYS knows what Jelena is thinking.
I am all like: how very fortunate for Thor – mayhap he should be slightly less of an asshole – but no. Still a brooding turd. He does improve, but I really want him to lose his powers at some point. Just saying.
So, if you are anything like me: Still lamenting the end of Firefly (you were taken from us TOO SOON) and want to have more episodic tales of a disparate group of space adventurers, roaming the heavens for freight and adventures. Try Sky full of Stars.
Valancy: on the lookout for something else bright and quick and a little bit snazzy. (If I am on a roll, why stop??)
Header Image: William Morris Wallpaper design: 1871, Branch