Author: Charles Brass
Publisher: Clear View Press, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-935795-80-3

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Debut author Charles Brass brings us a story set in a universe where humanity lives in peaceful coexistence with other worlds, in an alliance called the Unity Sphere.  Furry faced , big eared byverii and  snouted cavaxians  work and play on an equal footing with humans in a future where space travel is a mundane reality,   people’s movements easily tracked through  cranial implants and  cryonic technology  (called ‘reanimation’ here) as ubiquitous and easy to use as a cellphone app .   Sadly, the harmony between these civilizations inspires less wholesome alliances  as well, like the terrorist outfit Black Diamond, headed by  archvillain Hetz. Deeply scarred by his one
encounter with Hetz, space commando Axel Fargo lives purely for vengeance, only to find it eluding him at every turn. Forced on furlough , Fargo employs some inspired guesswork to put himself right in the path of Hetz’s next caper – the hijack and pillage of a luxury interstellar cruiseship. The ‘Crown Orion’ boasts, among its passengers, byverian royalty and the spunky Maurel Bright, runaway human and reluctant heiress; yet,  it  is a lot more than just the QEII on warp speed. It is also a veritable Ark, bearing the ingredients of a brand new byverian colony, to be delivered to virgin planet Cherklar  – ingredients that include impressive weaponry, thousands of potential Black Diamond slaves and, rather alarmingly, a quartet of live carnivorous predators (rather unambitiously called ‘predesaurs’) .


The plot follows a trajectory familiar to anyone who enjoys the adventure genre – furious gun battles; an unrelenting body count; the promise of romance; several brushes with death for the hero, including one particularly inventive episode where he  crosses a vexing barrier by first killing, then reviving himself; and, of course, a final bout of hand to hand combat between Hetz and his beleaguered nemesis.  ‘Terrorcruise’ reminds me of several popular high adrenaline films – ‘Speed II’( evil genius terrorizing boatload of innocent vacationers ); ‘Die Hard’ (lone hero battling the baddies with little more than his wits and, in Axel’s case, a surprisingly  tame arsenal of cusswords) .  Even ‘Jurassic Park’, for what use is a caged predator if it isn’t set free, by a particularly foolhardy passenger, to run gleefully amok among a shipload of terrified, and very edible, tourists.

And yet – as in the case of each of these films -  it is precisely this foreknowledge that makes ‘Terrorcruise’ such an enjoyable read. Brass keeps the pace brisk, the dialogue snappy, his characters interesting and his readers on the edge of their seats, as we hurtle towards a satisfying end. ‘Terrorcruise’ is also a robust  effort in world building  with intriguing technical details- the thrills and perils of space travel being a highlight. I would , however, have liked some more help imagining the green blooded byverii and their  cavaxian comrades. 


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