by Dave Duncan
Cover Artist: Ralph Kermunski
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Edge Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781894063906
Date: 01 August 2012 List Price $9.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Seth Broderick wanted to go to space, so he did everything he could to prepare himself to be a good crew candidate. Almost too good. He catches on with the Golden Hind in the most dangerous position, prospector. The Hind seems to be perfectly positioned to take advantage of a new world, Cacafuego. They are in a race with the big boys of exploration as well as any other wildcatters that might want to take a shot at finding new biological materials to exploit.
They arrive to find the world marked with a warning flag, which should dissuade them from landing, but the risk reward ratio makes the owner want to risk it, and Seth may just be willing to try where others have failed.
Wildcatter is a stand-alone novel in the best tradition of classic science fiction. It is man and machine versus nature. There is no major alien warfare with the threat of alien extermination. Author Dave Duncan doesn’t need a war to create an action packed thriller.
It isn't just space exploration. There is also an exploration of the changing mores. In his future, some people are able to morph genders with the use of chemicals. This creates interesting dynamics as crew gender balances and roles change over time. On a small ship that is in deep space for a long time, the crew dynamics and relationships are important, especially when the owner really just wanted a harem.
Wildcatter is not a weighty volume, coming in at less than 200 pages. This is not a bad thing. The author was able to tell a complete story without going overboard and trying to stretch the materials to fit the notion that more is better. I recommend this to fans of fun space tales.