June 7, 2020

Friday Review: Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson

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Solving a crime is never easy… especially in space. This week’s scifi review marries up two time-honored fictional genres: the mystery/police procedural, and sleek cyber-punk. We’re talking about Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson, out now from Pyr Books.

In a Mike Hammer meets Blade Runner move, Blood Orbit delivers on the goods. The book pairs up rookie detective Eric Matheson, a newcomer to the corporate-ruled capital city Angra Dastrelas on the planet Gattis with cutting edge, cybernetically enhanced Chief Investigating Officer J.P Dillal.

A mass murder at a slum night club on the fringes of Angra Dastrelas lead the pair on a winding hunt, with planet-shattering implications. Of course, the old school policing establishment is immediately suspicious of the cybernetic way of doing things and the methods involved, and actively want to see it fail… unrelenting, the pair presses on with their cutting edge detective work, solving a mystery that may shake Gattis to its rotten corporate core.

Here’s one tiny subjective complaint we have about Blood Orbit… the characters aren’t all that memorable. We have the same opinion about the otherwise excellent Amazon (nee SyFy) series The Expanse… if you can walk away from a book/TV show/film and not remember the name of a single character, there’s a problem. Think of Andy Weir’s recent book The Martian: if nothing else, we all remember Mark Watney, and root for him in his struggle against the harsh environment of Mars and his quest to return back to Earth. Stock characters tend to lose our interest, or worse yet, make us root for the zombies. And yes, Mark Watney was “stock” for his own reasons (did he have a girlfriend/mom and dad/brother?) This was something that Weir seemed to try hard to rectify in his followup book Artemis, giving the main character Jasmine a complicated interpersonal backstory and convoluted family life.

I would’ve liked to have seen a little more background on the whole Gattis File universe, as well. I know this impinges on the dreaded realm of exposition, something that is sacrosanct to many an aspiring author… but we would counter that folks read science fiction because they love world building, and knowing just how those high tech gizmos work.

But that’s just one reviewer’s opinion. Be sure to read Blood Orbit for fast-paced action and cyber punk crime sleuthing… and if that’s your thing, I would also suggest that you check out Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Anniversary Day Saga, the Space Age alternate history drama Red Moon and Paul McAuley’s Cowboy Angels.

Post Script – Well, as you may have noticed, we’re back from the monastic worlds of editing and beginning to accept and do book reviews once again. This is actually one of the more fun parts of freelancing life, as we get to put our finger on the pulse of the science and science fiction community and see what other folks are up to. We promise to try and resume doing Friday reviews, well, each and every Friday once again… sometimes it’ll be a sci-fi tome, sometimes a hard science or astronomy book, sometimes maybe it’ll be an app, movie or tech gear (you’d be surprised what folks send me to review).

Stay tuned!

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