Book Review - Captain Wu, Starship Nameless
This book was a finalist for the 2021 Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC), and I read it as a judge.
A 61-year-old Asian woman ship captain and grandmother provides a refreshing perspective on the swashbuckling hero. Several of the Starship Nameless crew are interesting characters, particularly the captain’s young, awe-shocked granddaughter and a wizened, furry alien that lives in the ship’s ductwork. The universe that Fitzgerald and Lyster have established is creative, with fascinating planets, interesting aliens and characters, and reasonable technology – with limitations – that provides its own set of challenges to overcome when the action gets frantic.
The plucky crew of a small ship, eking their way in the galaxy smuggling contraband and living outside the long arm of the law has been played a lot, but Fitzgerald and Lyster still bring some uniqueness and creativity to the trope.
The story flows easy from the beginning, when Captain Wu is ambushed at a merchandise exchange and a series of events are kicked off that lead the Nameless crew on a search to research the cargo they carried, figure out why assassins chased them, and see if they can earn some money along the way. A positive tone throughout, there is little sense the crew is ever in danger while their adversaries face a staggering mortality rate.
For me, the ending faltered as the story stops with many questions left unresolved. Some answers are speculated by the crew, but this is unsatisfying as nothing is confirmed through the narrative. Perhaps an aggressive attempt to sell book two of the series and continue the story, I found the approach disappointing.
Overall, it’s a fun read, and I enjoyed it more than not.