In this “immersive, intergalactic spy-fi,” two rogue agents go after a top-secret super weapon—“A Cold War thriller with wormholes” (John August, screenwriter of Titan A.E. and Big Fish).
The galaxy is mired in a cold war between the Illyrican Empire and the Commonwealth. Thrust between this struggle are Simon Kovalic, the Commonwealth’s preeminent spy, and Kyle Rankin, a lowly janitor happily scrubbing toilets on Sabaea, a remote and isolated planet. However, nothing is as it seems.
Kyle Rankin’s real name is Eli Brody, and he fled his home world of Caledonia years ago. Kovalic knows a top-secret Illyrican superweapon project is hiding in Caledonia. He also knows that the past Brody so desperately abandoned can grant him access to people and places that are impenetrable even for him.
Now Brody and Kovalic are on a mission fraught with dangerous unknowns, guaranteed to tip the scales of galactic peace. Sounds like a desperate plan, sure, but what gambit isn’t?
The Caledonian Gambit is a throwback to the classic sci-fi adventures of spies and off-world politics—“a wisecracking caper that nevertheless doesn’t skimp on the details and human cost of interstellar war, like John Le Carré meets The Stainless Steel Rat.” (Antony Johnston, author of Atomic Blonde and The Coldest Winter).
Tech writer and podcaster Moren's debut is a competent, if unambitious, space adventure. Wisecracking Elijah Brody decided to sign up for the aggressive Illyrican space fleet even though the Illyricans exert harsh control over his home world, Caledonia; he cared about flight, not politics. But a transport wormhole is destroyed in a defensive move that leaves thousands dead and Eli trapped on an isolated planet for five years. When it reopens, Simon Kovalic, an intelligence officer from the rival superpower called the Commonweath, collects him in hopes of acquiring information about a game-changing weapon, a task that gets Eli involved with the radical Caledonian resistance. The political element is bland, but the action scenes, both on the ground and in space, show a focus on thoughtful planning and careful pacing. The characterization delves just enough into emotionality to give the characters realism without moving the focus away from fights, intrigue, and spycraft. Though the ending is less shocking to the reader than to the characters, Moren makes its unfolding both natural and satisfying.