cover image Fearless


Allen Stroud. Flame Tree, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-78758-542-3

The depths of outer space test the strength of a dynamic heroine’s inner resolve in Stroud’s smart, introspective space opera set in the year 2118. Captain Ellisa Shann reroutes her patrol ship, the Khidr, in response to a distress call from the freighter Hercules, but the rescue mission is hampered by a series of mishaps that appear to be sabotage. Worse, the damaged freighter turns out to be carrying a mysterious, classified cargo, and its recovery is countermanded by a senior officer of the United Fleet Consortium under shadowy circumstances. Shann is faced with finding double agents within her crew while determining where her own loyalties lie as the tensions between Earth and its colonies on Mars, Earth’s moon, Ceres, and Europa burst into conflict. Stroud (The Forever Man) makes a convincing argument that surviving in space requires absolute trust in colleagues and crewmates to do their duties to the smallest detail—and shows how that trust, when frayed, can have disastrous results. With an attention to detail that will please hard science fiction fans, Stroud raises fascinating questions about the politics of space exploration. This is one to be savored. (Sept.)