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The Myriad by R.M. Meluch
Review by Madeleine Yeh
Daw Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0765402794
Date: January 4, 2005 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The Myriad is a small scale space opera. It manages to contain all the clich? elements, a single ship alone on an important mission containing the gallant captain, the reckless fighter pilots, the esteemed diplomat, the beautiful executive officer, and the augmented intelligence officer. The ship is on a mission to find the source of the ravenous Hive, which destroys all life, and is a threat to earth. The author also manages to throw in feckless diplomats, a new first contact and wormholes. Surprisingly this all works to make a very good story.

Captain John Alexander Farragut and the U.S. Navy Battleship Merrimack, sister ship to the Monitor, are looking for the home world of the Hive. The Hive comes in various forms all of them deadly, and devours all life, whether composed of R or L amino acids. The Hive has followed resonant pulses to human space and threatens Earth and her colonies.

In a small galaxy far, far away, the Merrimack encounter a primitive satellite and traces it back to three worlds inhabited by a previously unknown humanoid race. Some of the Merrimack?s fighters mysteriously disappear and reappear. The feckless diplomats of the League of Nations show up to take over diplomatic relations. Three hordes of the Hive appear to engage the Merrimack in desperate combat, with weapons from nuclear bombs to lasers, with the fight spreading from dogfights in space to close combat with slashing swords. The Merrimack successfully battles all this to find itself faced with an enemy it can?t fight: time travel and paradox.

The real joy in this book does not come from the plot; the plot is rather trite. It comes in the characters, the vivid detail of the surroundings and the author?s rather broad sense of humor. The characters are by far the best part. They start out as dull stereotypes and become more human and interesting. The dialogue is great. R.M. Meluch has a keen ear for vocabulary and nuance. The surroundings are also portrayed in vivid detail. The ship starts out as just a ship but then becomes a place of smells and sounds and burps. The ship has dogs, but not generic dogs. The medical center has a silky furred golden. A small shepherd is used to find wounded soldiers and hidden enemies. The bloodhound is called Nose. The alien palace is crusted with jewels, and the various human scientists are fascinated by the cracks in the lead. The author also has a whole lot of pie in the face type jokes. A break away colony of the United States has recreated the lost Roman empire, revived Latin, and has colonized worlds of its own. The United States and Rome cordially detest each other, and the U.S. Marines are now cursing in pig Latin. ?UF? is now used to describe the normal state of affairs. A sluttish marine?s boxers are numbered 0045, sixty-nine in hexadecimal. A revived League of Nations has appeared with all the sense and sensibility of the current PETA. They are aghast that the Merrimack has interfered with the local culture by saving the Archon from an assassination attempt, and is now planning to render the Hive species extinct.

This is a surprisingly readable book. Well maybe not that surprising, the rest of R.M. Meluch?s books were eminently readable. The pacing, the characters, the dialogue and humor make this very, very good. The Myriad is subtitled ?Tour of the Merrimack #1? and I look forward to more books with these characters.

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