Thank you to Berkeley Publishing Group and NetGalley for an early review copy of Stars Unchartede by S.K. Dunstall, which will publish August 14, 2018. All thoughts are my own.
World building: 4.5 plot: 3.5 characters: 4.5 Writing: 4
Thoroughly enjoyable, action-packed, sci-fi about a motley crew of spacefarers thrown together by circumstance. In this world, body modification for health, style, or pleasure is easily available if you have the cash, and the “modders” who do those modifications are held in far greater esteem than doctors. Nika Rik Terri is the acknowledged best, but some nasty customers who prefer not to leave witnesses have her on the run; Josune Arriola was sent to spy on Captain Hammond Roystan — clearly not the simple cargo runner he appears — but remains when her own ship shows up with a full complement of dead crew members.
In a galaxy where the big 27 Combines run the legal system, justice can be difficult to procure leading to intrigue and imaginative fight and / or flight scenes. Exploration of the art and science of body modification via genetic engineering is pervasive throughout — details of design, implementation, requirements, source materials, equipment, and the challenges of difficult cases make for interesting reading. Plenty of technical detail on fixing up their (oft attacked) ship as well. In addition to the action, I found a couple of other points interesting: Nika — the top notch modder — thinks about why style and appearance are so important to her and how that may have caused her problems in the past. Also, I found the contrast between current and previous modder training interesting — the newer training taught people to rely on technicians and equipment rather than their own deep expertise; Nika prefers to be able to maintain, extend, and even create her own equipment. A good analogy for traiing in many fields today.
Great for fans of Andy Weir, Becky Chambers, CJ Cherryh, and Lois McMaster Bujold.