cover image Ragnarok


Patrick A. Vanner, Baen, $14 paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-4391-3384-2

With a familiar story arc and bursts of awkward prose, Vanner's debut, the first in a planned military space opera series, doesn't leave much of a mark. In 2197, humanity is locked in a vicious war with the salamander-like Xan-Sskarn, unrepentant polluters who covet Earth's clean water. Capt. Alexandra McLaughlin, still gripped with survivor's guilt two years after an encounter with the enemy killed many of those under her command, manages to be one of Earth's prime assets, even as she's suspected of providing the Xan-Sskarn with crucial information about ship movements. Clumsy plot twists and awkward prose ("While his size was imposing, the bright cheerfulness dancing in his eyes and his jovial attitude put those around him at ease, but that brightness turned to hateful fire where the Xan-Sskarn were concerned.") make this adventure entirely forgettable. (Sept.)