cover image The Ghosts of Trappist

The Ghosts of Trappist

K.B. Wagers. Harper Voyager, $30 (560p) ISBN 978-0-06-311516-3

This sentimental space opera, the third in Wagers’s NeoG series (after Hold Fast Through the Fire), revisits the crew of Near-Earth Orbital Guard Interceptor Zuma’s Ghost, gleefully mixing business with pleasure. While defending their championship in the Boarding Games and digging into the sudden appearance of “ghost” (uncrewed) ships in the Trappist solar system, the crew also works through a ton of emotional baggage: Lt. Max Carmichael is pressured by her prestigious Naval family to quit the lower status Guard; Chief Petty Officer Altandai “Jenks” Khan worries that her canine robot, Doge, is developing impossible abilities like active learning and human feeling; and Ensign Nell “Sapphi” Zika is confronted by a toxic ex-partner whose work on a classified AI project brings him into unwanted proximity. Meanwhile someone (or something) is sending secret messages and killer spacesuits after the crew. Wagers lavishes a lot of attention on the internal conflicts and interpersonal frictions that accompany the more standard space battles and computer hacking intrigues. Readers who enjoy both the glitz of space opera and the conviviality of family dramas will be rewarded with as many embraces as EMP blaster pulses. Agent: Andy Zack, Zack Company. (June)