Galaxy Outlaws, written by J. S. Morin, is unashamedly a love note to the TV show Firefly (cancelled too soon!) but not so much that you feel cheated or like it’s fan fiction. Instead, what we get is an interesting take on the universe where magic and machines play a big part… and don’t always play nicely together.
While the blurb pegs Carl as the main character, it’s hard to pin him down as such a lot of the time. Many of the “side” characters get a lot of book time, where we get to delve into what makes them tick.
And while Carl has a military background and can fly rings around anyone, apart from his special ability to lie his way out of anything, he’s otherwise admittedly useless. He doesn’t pretend to understand electrical mechanics or isn’t particularly good at fist-fighting.
The rest of the rather well-balanced crew is there for that, and they do get a lot of their own time centre stage, as I mentioned. Esper, a rescued “nun” of the One Church, for example, has immense growth and a lot of story-time devoted to her development, almost to the point she seems like the actual main character.
And Kubu, of course. The mega-fauna sentient dog. The brain of a toddler in the body of an elephant and the appetite of Cthulhu.
The combination of magic and machines is an excellent way to solve interstellar travel. The “ships wizard” drops them into astral space, letting them travel across space in much less time. The fact that magic tends to make machines go on the fritz is an added level of tension for things to go wrong.
Now, I’ll own up and say I’m only halfway through the 85-odd hours of this 16 part book. It’s a massive amount of story for a credit, and I don’t want to burn out on the series. I’ve been interspersing parts of it among other reads, but there is still a lot to go. At a little over halfway done, though, I’m confident in what I’ve heard so far that’ll I’ll enjoy the rest of it.
Narration by Mikael Naramore is top-notch. Well produced and easy to listen to. No obvious or detectable issues and plenty of distinction among the characters.
All up, a mind-bogglingly huge amount of listening time (I’m earning that gold Everest badge!) for a single credit. Fans of Firefly will get a kick out of it.