June 6, 2020

Review: Starship: Flagship by Mike Resnick.

The saga continues…Starship:Flagship is the final installment in the Wilson Cole Starship saga. Out this month courtesy of Pyr books, this last chapter by prolific author Mike Resnick sees a wind up of the Starship series. I must admit , now that we’re semi-into it, it’s a shame to see it end! Fans of this site will remember the luke-warm reception we gave Starship:Rebel a few months back; much of what we said still applies to Flagship. Laser blasts fly, warp engines (OK, wormholes) are engaged, and furry green alien creatures are real furry green alien creatures, and of course, most punches are pulled…but hey, this is a space opera!

Much of what made me rethink this saga a bit during its final chapter is how it performs a service that only truly good sci-fi does; it serves as a metaphor for modern issues. This is why although series like Star Trek may be horrible when it comes to actual science, they actually succeed as a whole in the sci-fi genre. Starship:Flagship does raise some contemporary issues via military science fiction, such as; is torture ever justified as a means to an end? Certainly, captain Wilson Cole is a moral officer; fans of the series will recall that is why he mutinied in the first place. But in Flagship, he’s confronted with a dilemma that’s as timely and topical as Abu Ghraib. The fate of the Republic and the Inner Frontier is at hand, in what turns out to be a rousing epic climax. Without introducing too many spoilers in the mix, let’s just say that Captain Cole finds an opportunity to topple the Republic via the Trojan Horse strategy, only to find himself and the Teddy R. as a Flagship in a fleet against an entirely different menace! I will say that the strategies used in the galactic battles depicted are worthy of such classic flicks as the Wrath of Khan…. its all to easy for a writer to simply “insert super scientific techno-babble solution” here, but much more difficult to defeat the enemy via a low tech method, as Cole often does. His plan to spread fear and disinformation via bombing abandoned worlds is a feat that Sun Tzu himself would be proud of. As Cole notes, a true victory can be had without firing a single shot…

We also appreciated the inclusion of the Birthright universe time-line in the Appendixes, as well as a brief discussion on wormholes and the “ethics” of the series as a whole. There’s even tablature for the “Ballad of Wilson Cole!” Not much sci-fi comes with its own sheet music these days…

Read Starship:Flagship as a fitting end to the series and to mark the end of the human Republic in the Birthright universe time-line. It is good to see writers such as Mike Resnick and Orson Scott Card breathe new life back into military sci-fi, and pay close attention to the seeds of a sequel put fourth at the very end… what will be the ultimate fate of the galaxy and man?


  1. John Anealio says:

    Hi David,
    Great review. I actually wrote “The Ballad of Wilson Cole”. Thanks for mentioning it in your review. If you haven’t done so already, you can download the MP3 for free at my blog.


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