“Sandorn’s Command” by Thom Bedford

To enjoy Science Fiction, the reader must suspend the disbelief that all those technological wonders are possible. Fans of Space Opera need to practise this technique to a greater degree, because the situations and the coincidences are even harder to believe. We are willing to trade this effort for the enjoyment we get from the story.

This novel does a very good job of helping us to believe in the technological elements. The battle scenes that take up a good portion of the story tend to follow standard patterns for the genre, making them easy to follow. Ship maneuvers are well plotted and tactics well visualized. On-ship destruction is detailed and subjective, and suspense is powerful. The action feels possible and important to us.

When it comes to convenient coincidences, the author is a bit too free-and-easy. Given the complexity of the technology, it is a stretch to believe, for example, that Sandorn’s civilian crew could merge so easily into prominent positions in the military. This is mitigated to some degree by the fact that we like them so much that we want them to succeed. Also, I wondered at how luring the marines to attack the station would have helped the space battle in any way, but I leave it up to readers to decide.

Personally, I did have a problem with one event. In the altered reality of the genre, it is quite acceptable in a battle situation with large spaceships for thousands of lives to be lost. That’s the inevitable result of real wars, too. However, I have a problem with an author cold-bloodedly killing off a crew of 350 “good guys” as a plot device so that the hero can have a ship to take over. It just feels wrong, and the hero’s ability to cope emotionally with the situation undermines the PTSD conflict that has helped to make him sympathetic.

And the book really needs some proof-reading help. Constant misuse of hyphens and dashes, especially in numbers, is distracting, as are getting “lay” and “laid” mixed up, and sentence structure errors and misplaced phrases are frequent. Point of view is loosely controlled, as we slip from one character’s head to another in the middle of a chapter. The standards for English are pretty low in this genre, but when there are enough errors to distract us from the story, it needs to be mentioned.

This is an entertaining example of Space Opera with especially good action sequences and likeable characters but asks us to suspend our belief in reality a little too much.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This review was originally published in Reedsy Discovery.

About the Author: Gordon Long

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.