This was a pretty quick but really enjoyable read. For a novella,this one racks up an impressive number of bodies as well as setting the stage for a continuing series. There’s a lot in it and with all that Harlow has to accomplish in 82 pages, some things are a bit superficial but she deftly moves the story along at a pretty brisk pace and seeds enough hints and inferences that hooks the reader in.
There’s definitely a Star Trek (original) feel to it which I particularly liked – fun and just a bit campy. A science vessel is ferrying diplomats to a space station and during a reception, the lights go out and one of the ambassadors is murdered. Things move forward at pretty breakneck speed with Commander Solaris unofficially investigating and applying her logic and reason to determine how, why and who while more bodies pile up. I was a bit doubtful that with all the murder and mayhem, things wouldn’t have been a bit more paranoid and chaotic on the ship – it’s not like there was any doubt that the murder was among them – but what the hell. I was enjoying it. Once the ship docks at a space station, the investigation continues with the addition of newly promoted Captain Jennifer Li getting involved. Although the who, why, how are answered so you won’t be throwing the book across the room, there are more questions than answers . I fully expect that the events of Four Bodies in Space will be expanded in the larger series. In fact I’m looking forward to it.
Solaris definitely has the feel of a Spock-like character – logical, unemotional and separated from the rest of the crew due to her alien ancestry. Harlow has added a bit more to the reserved science officer – hinting at a complicated past and redacted personnel record as well as some interesting psychometric abilities. I rather enjoyed her as the main character and look forward to how Harlow will start peeling back the layers as the series progresses. We don’t get as much of Li in this book as she isn’t introduced until halfway through the story, but you can tell that she’ll be a perfect foil for Solaris and she has her own mysterious backstory.
My only quibble with this one is the run on sentences and naming convention for the ships. They were a bit odd and off-putting at first, but I got dragged into the story pretty fast, so either I got used to them or the sentence structure improved.
Four Bodies in Space is book one of the New Voyages series and I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next installment to see where Harlow’s taking us next.
Recommended for a quick, fun read.
Thank you to Netgalley for an advance copy for review.