Jul 282022

Publishers Weekly: This addictive space opera from Ow (Cradle and Grave) posits a far-future, intergalactic cold war between Russia and the UN. Cocky scavenger Solitaire Yeung goes against his crew’s wishes to investigate a distress signal from a Russian military spaceship and steal (“salvage”) an unidentifiable piece of tech. Unknown to Solitaire, the stolen pod is a prototype for a new artificial intelligence, and the Russian Federation orders Cdr. Viktor Kulagin, captain of a destroyer fitted with an AI he deeply distrusts, to hunt Yeung down. This plot paves the way for a rarely seen thematic quandary centering on early AI use in spaceships. The cultural microcosms aboard space stations like New Tesla and cleverly interwoven history make for deeply plausible worldbuilding as Yeung finds himself at the center of a political conflict that could fracture the hostile peace between galactic superpowers. And when a new faction enters the fray, Solitaire and Viktor are forced to ally against a power that threatens all of humanity. Unexpected humor and thrilling action punctuate this space opera adventure while empathetic characters and a tenderly explored theme add a lot of heart. Fans of artificial intelligence and daring spy stories will find much to love.