cover image Fleet Elements

Fleet Elements

Walter Jon Williams. Harper Voyager, $16.99 trade paper (512p) ISBN 978-0-06-246704-1

Williams impresses with the second book of his sophisticated Praxis trilogy (after 2018’s The Accidental War), more red meat for fans of high-quality space operas. After a financial crisis rocks the multispecies, interplanetary Praxis Empire, blame is placed on humans by one of the alien races that serve alongside humans on the Convocation, the empire’s ruling body. The false claim is used to justify a power grab: humans are booted off the Convocation and every Terran spaceship is disarmed. But a few humans, led by war hero Gareth Martinez, preempt the attack by seizing control of a handful of ships in the Praxis Fleet. Now Martinez and his allies, including his former love, Lady Sula, are desperate to avoid the tragic fate of other species the empire has deemed rebels and strategize the best way to restore humanity’s place in the empire. Williams never lets the tense action sequences overwhelm the complex inner struggles of his characters; he’s especially good at portraying Sula’s fears that she will be exposed as an imposter, having assumed the real Lady Sula’s identity years earlier. Newcomers will have no problem getting oriented in this rip-roaring sci-fi world, and returning readers will be thrilled to dive back in. Agent: Joshua Blimes, JABerwocky Literary. (Dec.)