StarBridge (StarBridge #1)
by AC Crispin
These books first appeared in print starting in 1989 but now they're being reprinted in eBook format. When this first one went on sale for a dollar or free, I decided to give it a try. I had already "friended" the author on Facebook and we were in the same online writing message board for a while, so what the heck.
For the low price it's not bad. Better than a lot of the self-published stuff you can get. That said it's not great either. The writing is blase and the characters are flat. There was no one in this book I ever really felt could be a real person.
The story is that old tried-and-true first contact scenario. A human freighter called the Desiree is heading to Earth when it picks up some mysterious signals. They investigate and find a planet of sort-of-lion-looking aliens called the Simiu.
A lot of time is spent then on the two cultures trying to communicate with each other. On the forefront of this is 17-year-old Mahree Burroughs, who makes friends with one of the aliens. (I won't try to spell his name since the alien names all have a bunch of Rrrs and Kkkks and apostrophes.)
When things go sour between humans and Simui, Mahree and her friend decided to go look for the Cooperative League of Systems (a Federation-like entity) to intervene. The dreamy Dr. Gable goes with them. But will they save the day? (Considering there are at least SIX more books, what do you think?)
Anyway, for those who want more of a Star Wars-type space opera there's not lots of action to be had. While there's some science-type stuff, I wouldn't consider this "hard" science fiction either. It kind of falls in the middle then. Then not-so-nice way I described it was "the homeless man's Vernor Vinge."
Probably the biggest fault I had with the novel was with the main character, Mahree. She's so immature that I never could imagine her as anything besides a whiny twelve-year-old, despite that she was seventeen and by the end does some adult things. I think part of it might be that half of the story is her talking into her diary about her crush on Dr. Gable. You certainly wouldn't hear Captain Kirk doing that.
Anyway, despite its deficiencies, it's a good light sci-fi read, especially at the low price. Though really I'd rather read "Conqueor's Pride" by Timothy Zahn or "Expendable" by James Alan Gardner. The writing of both is of about the same quality but there's a little more action and no sighing teenagers talking into diaries. I'm just saying.
That is all.