Author: Adam Rakunas
Series: Windswept #1
Publisher/Copyright: Angry Robot, 2015
In the distant future, everything runs on molasses, rendering sugar cane the lifeblood of human civilization. Corporate interests control the starways, staffed by an indentured workforce, while the Union takes every opportunity to convince said workforce to breach their contracts and jump ship. Out at the edge of settled space, Union recruiter Padma Mehta is particularly eager to add new Breaches to her headcount—thirty-three more recruits and she’ll get a bonus that will allow her to buy her favorite rum refinery and retire. Of course, it’s never that easy. Santee is a backwater, barely kept afloat by the supply of molasses sent up the elevator, so when Padma catches wind of forty potential Breaches she jumps at the opportunity…right out of the frying pan and into the fire. Now she’s dodging corporate hit squads, running from the police, and wading through sewage in an attempt to save the planet from a crop-killing plague…and the corporate response that would doom every soul on Santee to a fiery death.
Windswept is definitely a roller coaster of a novel, with a breakneck pace that refuses to slow down and let you think. This serves the novel well, especially as it helps gloss over the odd plot hole or uncharacteristically foolish action a given character might take in service to the plot. (Notably, a character picks up a fallen enemy’s gun, removes the magazine and pockets it, then throws the gun itself away. Why? Because the upcoming fight scene wouldn’t be as interesting if she were armed, but that magazine is going to be essential to solving a problem in the near future…The character does at least have the grace to question why she discarded the pistol, chalking it up to sleep deprivation clouding her judgement. There’s also a jarring moment where a character announces that she’s got to be at work in fifteen minutes, then a page later reflects on the fact that she’s going to be able to kick back and relax the rest of the night.) There’s not a lot of such gloss needed, but then it may have worked and I missed some examples. On the whole, though, the book was a very fun thrill ride through a future that looks like no other I’ve ever seen. A worthy debut, and I shall watch for future works from Mr. Rakunas.
CONTENT: R-rated profanity, prevalent but not gratuitous. Strong violence. Moderately explicit sexual content.
Title: Force War
Story & Script: John Ostrander
Story & Art: Jan Duursema
Series: Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi Volume III (Issues #11-15)
Publisher/Copyright: Dark Horse Comics, 2014
Here we go again, diving one last time into the ancient history of the Star Wars universe. Obviously, this will contain spoilers for the previous volumes of the series, Force Storm and Prisoner Of Bogan.
Jumping forward a year from where we left our heroes, we find the Tython system embroiled in full-scale war. The Rakata have arrived in force, capturing several of the outlying planets before being turned back by the combined forces of the Je’daii and the other Tythans under the command of Daegan Lok. Wielding Forcesabers modeled on that carried by former Force Hound Xesh, the Je’daii walk a fine line in the Force, drawing increasingly on the Dark Side to power their weapons and carry them through battle unscathed. Despite the endless battles facing him and his friends, Xesh is finding himself increasingly in balance as he learns to touch the Light Side of the Force as well as the Dark, helped in no small measure by his growing relationship with Shae Koda. Fighting together the Tythans have managed to stymie the Rakatan advance, but at heavy cost. What they don’t know, however, is that the Rakata want far more than just Tython. They want the Infinity Gate buried beneath it, an ancient piece of tech that would unlock any and every world in the galaxy for conquest….
As with the previous entries, I absolutely loved this one. The one-year jump forward glossed over a number of events that I would have enjoyed getting to see, but given the timing of the license shifting to Marvel, I suspect that this was the only way to get to the conclusion Ostrander & Duursema envisioned before running out of time. I’d love to have a lot more of this series, obviously, but given that events didn’t allow that to happen, this was an incredible conclusion to the series. I would enjoy seeing how the Je’daii evolve into the order we see at the start of the Tales Of The Jedi comics, but that is naught but a pipe dream now that all the relevant media has been relegated to Legends status.
CONTENT: Some violence. Mildly explicit sexual content. Mild to no profanity.
Title: Kallus’ Hunt
Writer: Martin Fisher
Artist: Bob Molesworth
Series: Star Wars: Rebels
Publisher/Copyright: Egmont UK Ltd., 2015
Once again, here’s a short comic from the Star Wars Rebels magazine! This time we focus on Imperial Security Bureau agent Kallus. As with previous comics, this was originally published in Germany before being translated and published in the UK in Star Wars Rebels Magazine #4. I believe it’s slated for stateside publication, but I’ve no confirmation of that yet.
It’s not often we get to root for Agent Kallus, but this story offers you that opportunity and allows a deeper insight into his character. He’s still a cruel and prejudiced officer, still the man that oversaw the extermination of the Lasat, but here we see he’s also a true believer in the Empire as a force for order in a chaotic galaxy. There are Imperial officers who are corrupt and out for their own personal gain, but Kallus will do whatever is necessary to bring such men to Imperial justice.
I liked this one. It’s always a pleasure to see the Galaxy Far, Far Away become more nuanced, to get to root for the villains against even worse baddies on occasion. There’s not necessarily a lot here, but what there is suggests a rich history for all characters involved–one I hope we get to explore some other time. As usual, Fisher writes the characters spot-on so that you can almost hear their voices in your head, and Molesworth’s art is better than could realistically be expected from such a publication.
CONTENT: Mild violence. No profanity. No sexual content.