Top critical review
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Fun and undemanding.
on 24 June 2014
I have not read any science fiction for awhile and found myself picking up this edition of the Targon Tales 1. My first impressions were that after the first chapter I had a lot of questions, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, a good book should open with a hook that draws you in and wanting to find out more is a definite attraction. The problem I had with ‘Sky Hunter’ is that it never got anywhere near answering my questions.
To begin with this is not a science fiction story, it is more a futurist tale as there is no scientific principle being considered in the narrative or acting as an impetus to the plot. It is set in a human future that is undetermined and follows the adventures of one Nova Whiteside, a female pilot in the Air Command; the armed forces division of a governing body referred to as the Union of Commonwealth Worlds. Nova is aiming to attain a hunter class rating as a pilot and decides that getting a posting to a world where there is considerable rebel activity is the way to do it.
I got the character’s motivation easily enough but it remained just about the only clearly defined part of the story. The planet of Bella Tau was left indistinct with limited reference to its’ history, culture and peoples. It reminded me of Tatooine, or at least that is the image I ended up with. This approach was also taken in reference to other alien species such as the Centauri. Are they really aliens? They all seemed to be variants of homo sapiens with the occasional extra digit, peculiar hair and eyes, and different coloured skin. I saw them as similar to the kind of ‘alien’ you see in Star Trek.
I was also disappointed to realise that the author suggests that today’s consumer based capitalist economy is going to continue into the future and form the basis for human expansion into the galaxy. The Union of Commonwealth Worlds is all about trade and discovering new markets on worlds that are as yet un-initiated into their fraternity. They are opposed by the rebels, apparently disparate groups who all, generally, oppose this greed motivated expansionism. Not only does capitalism remain but it also appears that humanity has hardly evolved in the interim either. Issues like genocide and sexual assault are enacted for the same reasons and treated in the same deplorable ways as they are today. Very disheartening.
This lack of gravitas results in ‘Sky Hunter’ being quite a lightweight novel. In that capacity it is a good read, however. Chris Reher is an accomplished writer and on the level of a simple action story she moves things along very well. Nova Whiteside is an okay character, lacking some of the more interesting idiosyncrasies of ‘Battlestar Galactica’s’ Starbuck perhaps, being something of a loner her character suffers from a lack of opportunity to develop due to limited meaningful interactions with other characters. The background story of developing Skyranch Twelve also gets lost as the more immediate story of a concerted enemy attack takes over.
In conclusion, ‘Sky Hunter’ is an enjoyable read but it could have been so much better with more attention to the fabric that forms the backdrop to the story. I remained unconvinced of the galaxy it moves through and unsurprised by the plot device that wraps up the few other threads to the story.