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I must rave about this book. Once I picked it up and started to read it I just could not stop. Of course, I had to put it aside a few times, it is a fairly long book, but always, I would do so reluctantly, and I was ever impatiently eager to get back to the adventure. This is a highly original story with a likable, if misfit cast of characters. The story follows the adventures of Renna, a long-haul spacer, who was actually bred and nurtured (if you want to call it that) to be a part of an efficient team of enhanced humans, called Crewkin. Often referred to as Podders, a slang term of disparagement, by others in the space industry, Crewkin are bred and owned by Markham Corporation – an enormous and highly shady operation.

A year earlier, a catastropic accident caused the death of her entire crew. Renna has always been different, odd, even among her Crewkin, but now she is struggling just to survive on her own, and trying to manage the oppressive guilt she feels; determined to learn how to fit in with normal people. When she is approached and offered a position aboard the ‘norm’ hauler, Vagrant Spirit, she accepts, knowing this may well be her last chance to earn a living doing what she is trained for and loves to do.

As it turns out, the crew of the Vagrant Spirit, all have their own personal demons. Soon there are misunderstandings and conflicts aplenty as Renna settles in to her duties on the ship. The culture clash that occurs as Renna flounders during their interactions is particularly well depicted. I thought the descriptions of this future society were just brilliant – strange, sweeping in scope, and yet, still, utterly believable. The author deftly, and seemingly without effort, created personalities and situations that were so unique but that still easily captured my imagination and held it in thrall. This is a wonderfully powerful novel that is populated with odd-ball characters I came to care deeply for, as they traveled through space, facing uncertainty and adversity. A journey during which each of them faced some ugly truths that could have easily destroyed them all but which, instead, forged them into a solid, formidable unit.

The first book in a planned new series, this one propels the reader on an exhilarating junket aboard a spaceship carrying a frightening cargo. Here is one heart-pounding journey, peppered with twists and unexpected triumphs. I am already eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. Science Fiction fans rejoice, for this novel is a solid masterpiece, sure to fire up your imagination and send it hurtling through space on a wondrous ride. Outstanding, Science Fiction as it is meant to be! 

Book Blurb for Crewkin

Born and bred to be crewkin, Renna is devastated by the death of her ship and her kin. When her company’s medical department advises the few remaining survivors to commit suicide and join their kin in death, Renna refuses. Knowing she can never join another crewkin, she seeks a berth on one of the short-haul shippers running cargo hauls between the planets. Integration into ‘norm’ crew seems impossible until she joins the crew of the Vagrant Spirit. Her captain seems as desperate for any capable crewman as Renna is for a ship’s position. This job, this journey will propel her into a new world.

There is nothing so true as change is inevitable. Rumours of a new engine capable of thrusting a ship greater distances in a fraction of the time a crewkin ship takes, threatens Markham Company’s business. There is only one thing left to do—get rid of the evidence, the last survivor, and anyone else who threatens discovery. 

Night Owl Reviews Mar, 2011 5.00