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A Reader of Fictions: Review: The Kassa Gambit

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: The Kassa Gambit

The Kassa Gambit

Author: M.C. Planck
Pages: 288
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: From publisher for review

Description from Goodreads:
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.

First Sentence: "Dropping out of node-space, Prudence instinctively knew there was trouble."

Unsolicited review copies are always a crap-shoot. When The Kassa Gambit arrived, I did what I always do with unfamiliar books that come to my door: looked it up on GR. The reviews I saw were not particularly encouraging, but, hey, it was here, so I figured I might as well read it. Besides, I've had great experiences with Tor books, so benefit of the doubt, right? Well, I'm glad I took the time to read The Kassa Gambit, because I really liked it and I've been meaning to read more traditional science fiction.

Much as I declare myself a science fiction fan, and know that to be true, I really haven't delved into the genre as much as I should have. It's been a while since I read a book set in space and spaceships, unless you count Mothership, but that's a very different kind of book. The descriptions of space and the nodes usable for travel kept me captivated.

Even better, the heroes are a ragtag group trying to make their living in a world ruled by a questionable government. The characters are delightful, and I rooted for them throughout. First of all, I think it's awesome that the captain of the Ulysses is a woman, a young woman at that, Captain Prudence Falling. Not only that, Prudence is a good captain, her only failing being her tendency to sacrifice success to help make life better for others. Can I help but think of Mal from Firefly?

Prudence's crew is small, just her and two officers. Garcia, the communications officer, is an irascible drunk, but a hard-working, kind-hearted one beneath all his bluster. My favorite character is definitely Jorgun, slow of mind, but brilliant at navigation and jigsaw puzzles. He's so caring, funny, and accepting of himself and others.

The crew of the Ulysses meets up with the other main character, Kyle, a League officer secretly working to take the League down. His double agenting is dangerous, and he trusts no one. At the same time, Kyle and Prudence arrive at the planet of Kassa, discovering that it has been decimated by an unknown force, one they believe to be alien. Together, they work to solve the mystery of the attackers.

As much as I liked The Kassa Gambit, and I did, I have two concerns. The first is the instalove-style relationship between Kyle and Prudence. They're as bad as teenagers, and it's ridiculous. And, lordy, do they need to stop making out when they should be trying to freaking escape. The second issue is that the book feels unfinished. I suspect there may be a sequel do out, because the whole thing does not get wrapped up. The ending is epic and dramatic, but, seriously, what happened? Honestly, I hope there's more coming, because if it's just meant to be an open-ended conclusion, it was unsatisfying.

Whether Planck's next book is a continuation of The Kassa Gambit or something else entirely, I'll definitely be checking out more of this author's work. If you like exciting science fiction set in space, check out The Kassa Gambit!

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: "Not that anybody even knew what a Tibetan monk was, really. Half the sources said they were religious zealots, and the other half said they were super-soldiers with magic powers. Whatever beliefs they had held, whatever principles they had lived and died for, were dust now. Dust on a planet no one even remembered how to find. All that was left of them was a name, a few stories, and beer."

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Blogger Wendy Darling said...

It's funny, your actions/reactions after receiving an unsolicited copy are the exact same things I do, hah.

I love science fiction movies and I love YA sci fi, but I haven't really read that much adult science fiction-and this sounds like it could be fun! I usually like spaceship scenarios (well, aside from Across the Universe :X) so that part intrigues me. And you said the magic words: Mal from Firefly!!

February 12, 2013 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I wonder if we all do it this way or if we're strange. Impulse is another one that I need to get to from Tor. I feel bad for not getting to all of their stuff quickly, but I didn't know it was coming!

It's not exactly like Firefly, but there is a definite comparison to be made. I love the quirky little crew trying to stay out of trouble, but they're so kind-hearted they keep getting drawn into it.

February 12, 2013 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger Julie@My5monkeys said...

I am mixed with unsolicted books too. I love sci fi but very picky about reading them. I do adore Gini Koch Alien series. But very picky and I adored Across the universe too . But Like clones & time travel ..the book needs work. I love that you mentioned Mal from Firefly :)

February 12, 2013 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh, I think I've heard of that series being good before. *ponders* Across the Universe is fun too. Oh, time travel is really hard to get right. I rarely like time travel books even though I REALLY want to.

February 12, 2013 at 2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh but this sounds RIGHT up my alley. Hmph. I might have to...yes, I think I might have to pick this up.

I like the Firefly feel to this :D
--Katie (bibliogato/writingwithcats)

February 12, 2013 at 3:33 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I was really hesitant to say Firefly. It's a loose comparison. Definitely not as funny as Firefly, but there are some comparisons there. Anyway, I thought the characters were a lot of fun. :)

February 12, 2013 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger MCPlanck said...

Nobody ever remembers poor Melvin... :D

March 25, 2013 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Wah wah. Sometimes I am that reviewer who comments on this most people don't, but today is not that day.

March 25, 2013 at 9:57 AM  

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