cover image Terminal Alliance

Terminal Alliance

Jim C. Hines. DAW, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1274-6

Though humorous, the strong first installment of Hines’s Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse military science fiction series takes its core concept very seriously. It’s set in a future in which a plague killed most of humankind and turned the survivors into feral monsters. The alien Krakau have cured a handful of humans, leading to the creation of the Earth Mercenary Corps. When a bioweapon attack against the EMCS Pufferfish kills or incapacitates everyone aboard except Lt. Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos and her shipboard hygiene and sanitation team, they must commandeer the damaged ship and expose a conspiracy backed by villains who may be capable of undoing the Krakau cure. Much as in Hines’s Jig the Goblin series, the humor here comes from the contextual absurdity of underdog protagonists standing up to superior forces through cunning, unpredictability, and unconventional tactics—in this case, “space janitors” outwitting those who underestimate them. The ragtag EMC members also have an entertainingly incomplete understanding of human civilization, so they choose names that defy traditional gender norms (a woman is called Wolfgang Mozart) and name their ships for what they think of as Earth’s most intimidating creatures (e.g., the EMCS Honey Badger). This solidly entertaining story has plenty of potential for further installments. Agent: Joshua Bilmes, JABberwocky Literary. (Nov.)