cover image Suborbital 7

Suborbital 7

John Shirley. Titan, $16.95 paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-80336-382-0

Shirley (Halo: Broken Circle) veers from gaming fiction to near-future military techno-thriller in this competent, straightforward novel of U.S. Army Rangers in space. Lt. Art Burkett’s marriage is failing due to his wife’s worries over his continuous insertion into dangerous missions, when he is yanked away yet again, this time into a hostage rescue that involves a drop from space. The mission runs into complications: an undercover agent is killed by friendly fire, the agent’s brother vows vengeance, and the Russians look to solidify their hold on near-Earth orbit by finishing off the spacecraft carrying Burkett and company back to safety. Shirley includes most of the archetypes common to military adventure fiction, including the officer torn between public and private duty, the spy whose suspicions are not mere paranoia, the gruff leader who stands up to the Big Brass, and the Big Brass themselves, whose pettiness is paid for by personal sacrifice. Sure-footed descriptions of spaceflight and the toils of working without gravity enhance the plot without the technobabble ever pulling focus from the soldiers as they fight for their lives and honor. Shirley’s fans will be pleased. (June)