CassaStar by Alex Cavanaugh

Buy it here: CassaStar

I don’t normally do science fiction. When I was a child. at the time of the American missions to the moon, stories about spaceships and fictitious planets were all the rage – amongst the boys – but we girls found it a complete turnoff. A few months ago I said on my other blog, Write On that I didn’t like science fiction because what I wanted to read about was characters and relationships and Alex Cavanaugh, who writes only science fiction, challenged me . So I downloaded one of Alex’s books – the first in the series of his six Cassa books – and read it.

So I found myself reading science fiction – space science fiction.

Excepting a fleeting reference to the main character’s sister, all the characters are male and military.

Cassa is a planet, the main planet, although we readers spend time on planet Guaard too. Cassa planet is being attacked by the Vindicarn. The Cassan are flying military spaceships called Cosbolts with lots of unusual hardware such as teleporters which (if I understand this right) are a sort of sat nav – enabling the men to go where they needed to go and to ‘jump’ out of trouble. Also, Cassans are able to ‘hear’ each other’s thoughts but Vindicarn spaceships are armed with ‘disruptors’ capable of disabling this form of communication. The narrative includes many space air battles, which, I must admit, I found difficult to visualise, but, bit by bit, I got to understand the ‘science’ in the science fiction.

But what about the characters? After a difficult childhood, Byron, the main character, is a closed-down and private man, totally focussed on becoming the best Cosbolt pilot of his training cohort. He comes across as arrogant, which alienates him from his colleagues, but Byron couldn’t give a toss about this. The relationship between pilot and navigator is key and, when Byron’s longstanding navigator pulls out because he can’t cope with killing people in warfare, Byron is left stranded. Bassa, the head of the training facility, a stern and authoritarian instructor, realises that, his arrogance aside, Byron is an outstanding pilot, and Bassa, himself a trained navigator, takes a drastic personal step to support Byron.

CassaStar is more than spaceships, weapons, planets and things that go bang. CassaStar is about the non-sexual love which binds fighting men. One for the grown-ups.

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