Author: Jaime Samms
Length: 73 pdf pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: m/m time travel
Spaceship captain Tom lost copilot and lover to a slipstream accident, but he refuses to accept Briak is dead. As he loses himself to his obsession, his ship begins to exhibit technical glitches and personality traits not normal for a shipboard computer. It gets worse as Tom finds a new pilot and decides to manipulate the slipstream to go back in time and stop the accident from happening. But if Tom can’t figure out the problem, the space-time jumps may tear the ship—and his dreams of reunion with Briak—apart.
This creepy and intricately plotted science fiction thriller hooked me in and wouldn’t let go. If anything, it was even better on the second read through, when I could appreciate the character dynamics more rather than racing to find out what was happening.
Captain Tom is grieving the loss of his co-pilot and lover Briak two weeks previously. The accident didn’t make sense, because a pilot as talented as Briak should never have lost his mind in the mysterious and seductive slipstream they use to navigate space. But now more and more strange things are occurring on Tom’s ship. His computer Conee (Console/Neural Energy Enhancement) is particularly worrying, as she seems to have developed a split personality, and is apparently manipulating the onboard systems to her own ends.
Tom is determined to save Briak by making a jump through time, something deemed impossible by all but the outlaw Time Renegades. Unfortunately he has a new PADcom co-pilot, Jazz, monitoring his every move, and reporting back to his superiors, the self-appointed police of the slipstream. Tom has absolutely no respect for PADcom’s authority out in the wilds of space, and there are some wonderfully tense moments and touches of world building to give us an idea of this new society of humans and aliens.
The world building is done beautifully – just enough to fill you in when you need to know something, but otherwise you’re kept guessing with hints of the larger picture. The way Samms releases information is timed to give maximum suspense and impact, each new piece of the puzzle giving me an “aha! Oh no!” reaction as I realised just what it meant for poor Tom.
The characters are also superbly drawn. Samms includes enough of them to make the ship feel populated by a crew, and they all came across as distinct individuals. What’s more, they all felt like the kind of tough, capable people who would be found on a ship like this, flying just at the edge of the law as they try to avoid PADcom interference in their business. Tom is a great narrator. Although he’s clearly grieving, he doesn’t wallow in angst and there are no tears – just his insistence that things are wrong and a determination to put them right.
Although I could figure out a few of the plot developments well ahead of time, there were plenty of surprises in store as the characters revealed more and more of their true motivations. Briak was also an interesting character to get to know, though memories and dreams at first, until he finds his way back into the story – because this does have a happy ending, although it doesn’t pan out exactly how I wanted, but Tom seems happy so I suppose that’s all that matters. I can’t say I liked Briak, exactly – he comes across as an uncompromising, hard and violent man, although Tom does see a more gentle side of him at times.
This is one of those books that felt just like a movie. The characters were all vivid, the action and suspense non-stop, and with enough twists and turns to keep me intrigued all the way through. So long as you’re excited by science fiction and enjoy having to figure things out as you go, you’re in for a real treat with Renegade!