Two engineers hijack a spaceship to join some space pirates—only to discover the pirates are hiding from a malevolent AI. Now they have to outwit the AI if they want to join the pirate crew—and survive long enough to enjoy it.
Adda and Iridian are newly minted engineers, but aren’t able to find any work in a solar system ruined by economic collapse after an interplanetary war. Desperate for employment, they hijack a colony ship and plan to join a famed pirate crew living in luxury at Barbary Station, an abandoned shipbreaking station in deep space.
But when they arrive there, nothing is as expected. The pirates aren’t living in luxury—they’re hiding in a makeshift base welded onto the station’s exterior hull. The artificial intelligence controlling the station’s security system has gone mad, trying to kill all station residents and shooting down any ship that attempts to leave—so there’s no way out.
Adda and Iridian have one chance to earn a place on the pirate crew: destroy the artificial intelligence. The last engineer who went up against the AI met an untimely end, and the pirates are taking bets on how the newcomers will die. But Adda and Iridian plan to beat the odds.
There’s a glorious future in piracy…if only they can survive long enough.
Stearns's competent but uninspired debut, set in the near future of our solar system, follows Adda and Iridian, lovers just out of college who hijack a spaceship in order to deliver it to a pirate captain and, hopefully, win a place on the crew, which is more appealing to them than corporate drudgery. Unusually, Stearns has managed to produce a setting in which space piracy makes both reasonable economic and logistical sense; however, the focus of the novel is more on the artificial intelligence that has trapped the pirates on the space station they intended to take over as a base. The AI shoots down most traffic, both incoming and outgoing, but Adda is a software engineer, and her skills are the key to the group's escape attempts. The novel's prose is clunky, but the relationship between Adda and Iridian is believable and sweet, and well-worn tropes such as the rogue AI and a future controlled by evil corporations are deployed with some originality. \n
Good ideas poor execution
This book has some really interesting ideas behind it, but unfortunately is marred with poor execution. Most irritating are the characters, none of whom rise above a cardboard cut-out state. I kept hoping that eventually the author would add something—anything—to flesh them out but it never happens.
Its too bad because there is a lot to like here. Except the characters.
Awesome fun, read like an action movie.
Great fun. Recommended for fans of Tanya Huff’s Valor series.