cover image The Caledonian Gambit

The Caledonian Gambit

Dan Moren. Talos, $15.99 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-1-940456-84-3

Tech writer and podcaster Moren’s debut is a competent, if unambitious, space adventure. Wisecracking Elijah Brody decided to sign up for the aggressive Illyrican space fleet even though the Illyricans exert harsh control over his home world, Caledonia; he cared about flight, not politics. But a transport wormhole is destroyed in a defensive move that leaves thousands dead and Eli trapped on an isolated planet for five years. When it reopens, Simon Kovalic, an intelligence officer from the rival superpower called the Commonweath, collects him in hopes of acquiring information about a game-changing weapon, a task that gets Eli involved with the radical Caledonian resistance. The political element is bland, but the action scenes, both on the ground and in space, show a focus on thoughtful planning and careful pacing. The characterization delves just enough into emotionality to give the characters realism without moving the focus away from fights, intrigue, and spycraft. Though the ending is less shocking to the reader than to the characters, Moren makes its unfolding both natural and satisfying. Agent: Sam Morgan, JABberwocky Literary. (June)