Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wolf Star by R. M. Meluch

Wolf Star: Tour of the Merrimack #2
Review written 2006

Wolf Star is the 2nd in a series called Tour of the Merrimack; the first one was The Myriad. I read it a month or so ago. Meluch hasn't written any SF in perhaps fifteen years, but returns to the field now.

The story takes place in a future where the colonies of Earth are split into two opposing empires. One is led by the United States, and the second by Rome. It appears that, over the centuries after the fall of the Roman empire, the leaders had merely gone underground, awaiting their opportunity to restore its glory. When mankind spread to the stars, the underground Romans rebelled and established their empire anew.

The Merrimack, led by Captain John Farragut, is on a mission to find and destroy the catapult, the Romans' interstellar travel device, which can shift entire fleets from one point in their empire to its deep space frontier. They are ambushed, infiltrated, have their IFF codes broken, their weapons systems locked down by Roman subterfuge, and yet, somehow, manage to prevail.

After a second mission to smash the catapult by a larger portion of the US fleet is partially successful, the Merrimack finds a destroyed Roman fleet and investigates, to find and face a terrible enemy - The Hive. The Hive is a vaguely insectoid colony which travels through deep space, eating all organic matter which it finds. In The Myriad, the Roman Empire and the US were united in facing the threat represented by these aliens, but a deus ex machina ending involving time travel through a wormhole left the story in a situation where The Hive had not yet been encountered (read that book for the details). So, in this sequel, it is the Romans who discover and are brought to their knees by the Hive first, and must reluctantly offer their US enemies Pax, in order that humankind band together to face the external threat.

These stories are pretty quick reads, full of swashbuckling adventure and larger than life heroes. Unfortunately, Meluch doesn't quite seem to be able to resolve plots any more without some sort of improbable finale. I'd have to consult the library and re-read some of her older stuff to see if was a problem back then, too. Fun stuff, but I think I'd wait till the whole series is out before reading them, if I were you.

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