cover image The Forbidden Stars (The Axiom, Book 3)

The Forbidden Stars (The Axiom, Book 3)

Tim Pratt. Angry Robot, $8.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-85766-769-4

The lightning-paced latest installment in Pratt’s Axiom space opera series (after The Dreaming Stars) launches the crew of the White Raven head-first into another deadly encounter with ancient alien forces. The first aliens contacted by humans, a race who call themselves the Liars, gave humans access to 29 other stars via wormhole “bridges,” but never revealed that the Liars themselves were hiding from a powerful enemy known as the Axiom. Allied with a secret Liar faction, White Raven Capt. Callie Mechado and her crew travel to the Vanir system to investigate a colony that’s been silent for almost a century. As with previous chapters in the series, nothing is as it initially seems, and Callie and her crew have their work cut out for them when they finally uncover what’s really happened at Vanir. Readers new to the series will have some serious backstory catch-up to do, but they’ll be rewarded by lively characters—human, transhuman, and AI—and wry humor (“I would be a wonderful battleship,” claims smarmy AI Kaustikos), as well as enough action and intrigue for three novels. Pratt’s high-tech universe of tangled alien half-truths and hidden motivations provides a fascinating setting for a gripping series that has plenty of room for future surprises. (Oct.)