Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Do Unto Others by Michael Z. Williamson

Our favorite mercenary band from Ripple Creek has been given what would appear to be a plum assignment, guarding a rich heiress to an offplanet mining fortune, Caron Prescott, as she finishes up her engineering thesis on Earth. But more than one entity wants either to kidnap her, kill her, or incapacitate her in some way, and the attacks on her person escalate to the point where the place that seems to be the most secure is on her family's mining planet of Govannon, so Alex, Aramis, Jason and Elke and their friends transfer there as soon as she is done with her final exams.

Things seem quiet at first, but our friends are so wonderfully paranoid about protecting their client that they begin to acquire and stash weapons, supplies and (for Elke) explosives, and to plan ways to escape and evade attackers. As the latest addition to the management team of the mining consortium, Caron spends much of her time visiting the various facilities, learning about how operations are proceeding. She misses the signs, but someone is agitating the miners, and the workforce is a powder keg about to explode, seemingly unrelated to the attacks from outside.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop, the suspense builds nicely, and we begin to get an idea about who is really responsible for the attacks on Caron. It all comes to a head when her father is killed in a "mining accident" and the crew from Ripple Creek decides to protect Ms. Prescott at all costs. A great running battle scene ensues, and Elke finally gets to blow things up, nearly to her heart's content.

There's an interesting passage which is either about how the "evil capitalists" create wealth for all through a trickle-down effect, or perhaps it's about how technologies developed for our space race benefit society, or maybe even a little of both:

"This wasn't just a mine, it was a research facility, a resort, a peek into the future of space habitats, and might solve several problems with all human settlements, including pollution, starvation and resource depletion. The Prescott family had certainly earned its trillions. Far from being evil capitalists, the family were contributing massively to the future of the human race. They'd developed several entire industries, and created hundreds of refinements of others, not to mention being the vanguard of development of the mining and smelting techniques...The frothing socialists who hated the wealth simple couldn't, or didn't want to, understand that they benefitted directly from all this development, which only came about because Bryan Prescott was willing to stake his existing fortune on a bet some decades back."

More good action, and we get to know the Ripple Creek operators a bit better, too.

No comments: