“A little faith wouldn’t go amiss, Commander.”
Zero is the debut novel from author J.S. Collyer and the first in a series of what promises to be a restless, back-of-your-skull-pinned-to-the-seat ride for classical science fiction aficionados. If you’re looking for hard sci-fi, look elsewhere. Zero is more Star Wars than 2001: A Space Odyssey.
When an introductory quote is pulled from Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade, the hint is there: expect a messy affair in which there are players and in which there are pawns.
We begin with Captain Kaleb Hugo, a recently disgraced soldier of a military organization referred to only as “The Service.” By questioning his superiors, Hugo violates Tennyson’s simple role assigned to the soldier and winds up on their sh*tlist.
Of course, the normally disciplined Captain is good at what he does and the Service makes use of him on their privateer team. As new Captain of the Zero (the previous ones didn’t last long), Hugo must lead covert missions while butting heads with his flippant second-in-command, Ezekiel Webb.
By chapter two, Collyer has us by our Service pins and doesn’t let go for the rest of the book. She pulls us through a frantic plot involving intrigue and subterfuge, building and destroying relationships in the process.
The only “bad” thing I have to say about the book is that I would have enjoyed more background on certain peripheral characters. Webb and Hugo become as familiar as old friends by the middle of the book, but I would have loved to get past the surface for the rest of the crew. Then again, too much reflection would likely slow things down, so I’m betting Collyer knew what she was doing.
Zero is due for release on August 16th. The Service requests that you purchase a copy. You wouldn’t want to disobey them or you may find yourself sharing a bunk on The Zero (on second thought, that could be fun).