Abyss Deep: Star Corpsman: Book Two
by Ian Douglas
Cover Artist: Fred Gambino
Review by Steve Sawicki
Harper Voyager Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061894770
Date: 29 October 2013 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Elliot Doc Carlyle volunteers for a special mission even though he knows better than to volunteer. It's a recon mission to Abyss Deep, an ocean planet of extremes, deep ice on one side and boiling seas on the other. Humans have a research colony there. Or they did. The colony stopped sending updates. When the marines arrived they discover an alien ship in orbit and a warlike alien species, the Gyk'r, on the planet.
Humans had met the Gyk'r before with immediate combat effects. Seems they are a fight or flight race with the emphasis on fight. So, while the marines begin a search for the lost colony while battling the Gyk'r, Elliot finds himself once again on the edge of first contact when the planet's giant sea serpents attack them. Not only does he have injured marines to attend to but he has apparently made contact with a world mind.
This is the second book in Ian Douglas' Star Corpsman series. It recalls to mind the work of James White in many ways although, in this case the medics are embedded with fighting troops and do a lot of fighting themselves as well. Douglas, if you don't know is the alias of William H. Keith so if you think their writing styles are similar then you are a sharp reader.
I have to say this book is a bit slower than the first book, mostly because Douglas sends the marines off on a side trip to Europa to pick up a piece of equipment. Not sure why he did this. Maybe he had a bunch of info on Europa that he wanted to use. In any case this is a minor quibble.
I enjoyed the book. As mentioned previously I liked the first book better, but not by an excessive amount. I still found this an interesting universe for the characters to move in and the underlying structure should serve Douglas for a long time in the future. The pacing at times slows for no apparent reason and this could be the fault of an editor as much as the writer. It's not that big a deal.
The second small issue I have is that the main character, Carlyle, seems to possess most of the brains of the operation. So, while he's out with a bunch of other smart guys he's the one who figures stuff out most of the time. Note to Douglas, it's okay to let your other characters have ideas. You've established these characters as a unit and the reader roots for the unit and not just the main character. Minor quibbles though.
I recommend the book highly and the series just as highly. Go out and buy a copy.