cover image The Kassa Gambit

The Kassa Gambit

M.C. Planck. Tor, $24.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3092-5

This fast-moving tale of a freighter captain caught up in a star-spanning conspiracy crosses genres repeatedly, beginning as a space-operatic mystery with noir aspirations and winding up with a romance. Capt. Prudence Falling, looking to unload harvesters on the one colony world with open-air agriculture, finds instead a planet devastated by an unknown enemy. When she stops to help, her ship is commandeered by Lt. Kyle Daspar, police detective and officer of the hated League. Finding evidence of alien contact puts Prudence and Kyle at risk from forces within the League. Separately and together, from capital world Altair to a perpetually dark planet of masked monks, they uncover the reason for the attack and their feelings for each other. RPG tie-in novelist Planck (Sword of the Bright Lady) makes a noble attempt but never quite captures the poetic quirkiness or charms of old-school SF. (Jan.)