The Fortress in Orion (DEAD ENDERS)
by Mike Resnick
Cover Artist: Dave Seeley
Review by Jon Guenther
Pyr Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616149901
Date: 02 December 2014 List Price $18.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Mike Resnick's first book in the Dead Enders series, which takes place during the Democracy era of his much larger Birthright Universe, is a heck of a start to what I predict will be a pretty good series. The story follows Colonel Nathan Pretorius, a Democracy war hero who is recruited to switch a clone with the real leader of the Traanskei Coalition. To assist him in his mission, Pretorius calls on a team of ne'er-do-wells that range from a human cyborg to an alien shape-shifter.
Mr. Resnick's writing is refreshingly lean, probably something that comes purely from the amount of time he's spent building the worlds and environs in this universe. Moreover, the book is filled with good humor and satire--elements for which the author has an earned reputation as a storyteller.
The plot is immediately familiar. It has an almost Dirty Dozen feel to it with a bit of Firefly sprinkled into the mix just to add flavor. In fact, this could easily have been a two-part episode from that iconic show. Yet I didn't get an sense it was intended to be derivative.
There was also plenty of action with shooting, close-in fighting, and hair-raising escapes. About the only thing missing from this one was a major space battle. Even the last part of the book felt a lot like the breathtaking escape of Luke, Han, Leia and friends from the Death Star. More than half the characters on the team were women, too, with personalities varied well enough you could easily tell them apart.
There was very little in this book I could find to dislike. There were times where I felt the dialogue could have been a bit more sparing and there were technologies I would have loved to know a little more about. That noted, however, there was still plenty I found in the book for geeks (like me) to love.
If you enjoy fast-paced storytelling and highly engaging, almost science fiction pulp-style reads, you will absolutely love The Fortress in Orion. I indeed look forward to future books in the series. Highly recommended!