cover image A Red Peace: Starfire, Book 1

A Red Peace: Starfire, Book 1

Spencer Ellsworth., $4.99 e-book (232p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9572-6

Elsworth’s debut is a capable, if familiar, take on revolution in space and what comes after an empire falls. Jaqi is a smuggler barely surviving on the edges of what remains of the interstellar Second Empire. Araskar is a hero of the resistance, which has recently toppled the empire. Both men are products of crossbreeding programs started by the empire and stopped by the revolution. Neither is prepared for the cold reality of the new regime, which promises freedom but delivers only death. Elsworth’s writing is workmanlike, and his characters are consistent, though not original. The story is fast-paced but relies on happenstance and good luck, which limits the agency of his protagonists. Body horror and hand-to-hand combat are substituted for high-energy combat. This first volume primarily sets up the narrative that is to come, and leaves too many threads dangling for the conclusion to be satisfying. Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary. (Aug.)