I'm clearly off my reading feed. It's been over a month but I've only got two books to talk about. I'm hoping summer travel plans will give me some downtime to help catch up my pace.
Anyway, first up we have Off Rock by Kieran Shea. This was sold to me as a space heist book and I guess it is, but it's a bit more like "the gang that couldn't shoot straight" kind of deal.
Jimmy Vik works as a miner and while running some clean-up jobs on a planet about to be abandoned by the company he works for, he uncovers a small seam of gold. He can easily get it out, but smuggling it back to Earth will take some doing. He'll need the help of the local fixer and he has to keep his ex-girlfriend (and now his boss) off his tail. Things go delightfully wrong form the beginning.
The book was fine, but I really wanted "slick heist story" not "fiasco" so I was a little put out. Also, the action pretty much stays confined to the mining ship/base where Jimmy works. It was all ok, but nothing terribly special. Also, I'm a little concerned that Mr. Shea thinks he can write female characters but can't quite. Bit of an "uncanny valley" that's hard to describe.
Following this was The Sculpted Ship by K. M. O'Brien. This is clearly a self-published book and could've used one more professional editing pass. There aren't any glaring spelling/grammatical errors and it's pretty well put together but there are a few paragraphs that are heavy paraphrases of a preceding one, leading me to think that one of the paragraphs was from a previous revision.
Despite those few stumbles, the book is pretty decent. Anailu Xindar is a young starship engineer who strikes out on her own. She purchases a rare starship for cheap because a number of parts are missing and then goes about setting up her business and discovering more about her ship in the process.
I mentioned elsewhere that this is a sub-genre that's almost unique in science fiction -- adventures in small business ownership. In most cases (as with this one) it's all about owning/operating a small trading vessel, but there are a few other types where the whole story is about the day-to-day operations to keep things running. There are larger events going on and the book clearly wants to be the start of a series with all the foreshadowing it drops, but for the most part this is the simple story of a small-time cargo hauler. I can't think of many genres that have this sort of motif. Obviously private detectives have their business to run, but we don't get into the minute of that, it's just a simple reason for them to get involved in mysteries. I think there might be a link to Horatio Alger-type stories, but I find it interesting that we don't see this style in other types of writing very often if at all. I'm now imagining a whole genre of modern-day fiction explicitly about the small business experience which serves as a bit of a blueprint for people getting started in something.
Anyway, the book is soothing, but never really goes anywhere and there's a lot of prep work for a sequel I'm not sure we'll see. If there is one, I might pick it up but I'm in no hurry.