Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn

(A note before you read this:  Do NOT go read the Wikipedia page on The Icarus Hunt unless you want to see spoilers.)

The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn is one of my husband's favorite books.  Despite being married to him for over seven years now, I haven't read it.

Until now.

Truthfully, and I'm not just saying this to preserve my marriage, I quite enjoyed the book.

It follows the story of Jordan McKell, who is a smuggler that is hired to pilot the spaceship Icarus and its cargo to Earth.  Obviously, things go wrong -- there is sabotage, bribery, lies heaped upon lies, and all of this only topped by the fact that the ship is pursued by aliens, governments, and various ne'er-do-wells.

The story has elements similar to some of my favorite TV shows and movies; like Whedon's Firefly, it focuses on a smuggler and his crew of misfits, who'd all rather be doing something else.  Everyone being is after McKell and the ship, both governments and criminals alike, which dominates some of the storylines in Firefly.  The book also made me think of The Fifth Element, because the world setting feels very similar, in it's grittiness and treatment of technology.

What is funny about the things that the book reminds of, is that The Fifth Element was released in 1997, and Firefly was aired starting in 2002.  The Icarus Hunt was published right in the middle of that, in 1999.  So maybe it was just a time of good sci-fi.

(Also, all of those years make me feel terribly old.)

One aspect of the book that I like, is that Zahn doesn't mess around with technical explanations of the science in this science fiction work.  There's hyperspace, plasma guns, aliens doing alien things... and it's all stated as facts and left at that, basically.  I'm fine with this.  I've read other sci-fi books where the technology is described and explained in far too much detail, creating unnecessary lulls in the story.  Yes, sometimes the academic explanation of things is interesting, but my experience is that, most of the time, it really isn't.

Overall, The Icarus Hunt is a good romp.  The pacing is very good, the mystery is interesting, there's no weird forced romance or anything, just action and adventure.  Go read it.

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