Starscape: The Silver Bullet
Written by: Brad Aiken
Published By: Writers Club Press
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I reviewed The Starscape Project by Brad Aiken, I had mused about how nice it would have been to read a prequel to the novel. I wanted to know all about the Teconean / Earth war – how the Teconeans were discovered, how Danny Stryker had become a hero, etc. I wanted to delve a bit into the characters’ pasts. Much to my delight, I was contacted by author Brad Aiken, who informed me that there was indeed a book written prior to The Starscape Project. I soon received a copy of Starscape: The Silver Bullet by Brad Aiken. I cannot thank Mr. Aiken enough!
In the year 2013, a college expedition stumbled upon an incredible find while exploring the fauna of the Himalayan Mountains. It would seem that Neanderthals, once thought to be extinct , had actually survived, hidden from humans for centuries in a cavern in the heart of the Himalayas. Here, the Neanderthals flourished in a nearly perfect eco-system untouched by mankind as we know it. Untouched, that is, until that fateful day in the summer of 2013 which changed the lives of the descendants of the Neanderthal race forever.
It was soon discovered that although not possessive of a drive to create or explore on their own, Neanderthals possessed amazing skill in mimicry. They were able to mimic every aspect of human culture and were soon assimilated into human society. However, humans were far less accepting of these new members to their society – members whose hard-working nature and eagerness to perform even the most menial tasks to perfection were seen as a threat to humankind. Not only did they look and act different, the Neanderthals were taking jobs that once solely belonged to humans. As with any new any new race introduced into society, the Neanderthals met with extreme prejudice. Humans did not understand these newcomers, nor did they give themselves a chance to.
With the advancement of space travel, humans had gained the ability to travel further distances than ever before. Soon, they began colonizing other planets. Upon discovering the planet of Teconea, the humans of the planet Earth realized that they could kill two birds with one stone. They could find out if the planet was indeed habitable and they could get rid of their Neanderthal problem once and for all. Once the original mission, entirely made up of Neanderthals proved a success, it wasn’t long before it was suggested that all Neanderthals be moved to Teconea. And so it came to be, the banishment of the Neanderthals from their home world to a planet far, far away.
Understandably, the Neanderthal race became embittered toward the humans who had forced them off of their home world. They began to amass an armada of ships in hopes that they could one day take back what was theirs. Fearful of just such an event, the planetary colonies united with Earth under one interplanetary government know to the universe as the Federation. The Federations’s goal? To enforce law and prevent invasion by Teconean forces.
In 2497, the scientists at the Federation’s capital, Omnicenter, discover a way to protect the Federation from Teconean invasion – a new form of technology called the Federation Defense System. The FDS is nearly completed, but it is feared that the Teconeans will invade before it is ready for testing. Newly obtained information suggests that the Teconeans are amassing an invasion armada in the Orion system. Omnicenter Command begins to contact all pilots, requesting that they report to Omnicenter. They will be the only line of defense against the Teconeans should they attack before the FDS is completed.
Trader / wild west aficionado / pilot extraordinaire, Danny Stryker and his co-pilot T.C. McGee respond to the call, curious as to why the Federation would call all pilots to Omnicenter. Stryker was once a pilot in the Federation’s Space Corps, but had resigned his commission, having become disenchanted with the corps. Returning to Omnicenter brought back painful memories of love lost and hopes dashed and Stryker was eager to get the meeting over and done with and be on his way. Stryker soon learns of the armada amassed in the Orion system, but what truly grabs his attention is the FDS, or specifically, the obelisk that powers it. Stryker has seen it before…in a book about the wild west dating back to 1849. Convinced that this obelisk is a more advanced model than the one they are attempting to use with little success, the military requests that Danny Stryker go on one last mission for them – a time travel mission back to 1849 to retrieve the obelisk from the picture and bring it back to 2497. Stryker reluctantly agrees. Unbeknownst to all involved, a Teconean spy is among them waiting to pounce on the obelisk as soon as it is in Stryker’s possession.
Starscape: The Silver Bullet is full of twists and turns. In addition to delivering unexpected plot twists, Brad Aiken seems to enjoy moving back and forth between past and future. With some novels, this can become confusing, but somehow Aiken manages to pull this off with nary a hitch. The tale is addictive – I completed the novel in no time, finding myself reluctant to put it down until its completion. Captain Danny Stryker is endearing in a Han Solo sort of way. He tries to be gruff and puts on an air of indifference, but we soon learn that Stryker is a man with a heart of gold and fierce loyalty, both to the Federation and to those he holds dear. Stryker’s mishaps serve two purposes in this novel – they add a bit of levity by inserting humor into a tense situation, and they bring believability to the character. You find yourself nodding your head saying, “That would be just my luck were I in the same situation.”
Starscape: The Silver Bullet is not just a novel about the adventures of Danny Stryker. Aiken finds a way to insert side stories that are intriguing and educate the reader as to events leading up to Stryker’s mission. Every character in the novel peaks our interest and our desire to know more. For example, we are introduced to Billy Delaney, a young performer in a wild west show who is instrumental in Stryker’s locating and obtaining the obelisk. Once Stryker’s mission is completed in the wild west, most authors would move on to whatever happens next to Stryker, but, much to the reader’s delight, Aiken takes the time to tell the author just what happens to Delaney in the future. This is an author well-attuned to what his audience wants.
Thank you Brad Aiken for two very engaging and utterly enjoyable adventures! Please continue to entertain us – your fans are eagerly anticipating the sequel to The Starscape Project.