Review: ‘The Risks of Dead Reckoning’ by Felicia Watson

The Risks of Dead Reckoning by [Felicia Watson]

Genre: Space opera

Description: This is the third and final part of Watson’s trilogy about the Uniterran space ship Lovelace and her crew.

Amazon’s description says: “The Lovelace is ordered to respond to a distress call from unexplored space, and from a crew who all died 200 years ago. What they find is not only amazing, but potentially lethal. If Lt. Decker is going to make it down the aisle, she will have to survive the dangers of planet Tolu first.”*

It “harkens back to the classic science fiction of Asimov, Clarke and Herbert, but with the richly developed characters of a Roddenberry-esque story.”

Author: “Felicia Watson started writing stories as soon as they handed her a pencil in first grade. When not writing, Felicia spends her time with her darling dogs, her beloved husband, being an amateur pastry chef, swimming, and still finds time for her day job as a scientist.”

“She’s especially drawn to character driven tales, where we see people we recognize, people who struggle with their mistakes and shortcomings, acknowledge them, and use that knowledge to grow into wiser human beings.” (Goodreads)

Appraisal: It is the 31st century. In the middle book of the trilogy the Uniterran space ship Lovelace, was repurposed from a military vessel to a ship of exploration. The substantial crew consists of the main character, Lieutenant Naiche ‘Deck’ Decker, her captain father, her fiancé, her colleagues and friends and others who she probably just nods to in the corridor. This crew has been together a long time now and has become an efficient, well-drilled unit. It is also free of the angst that was evident in the first two books, as ‘Deck’ worked out her various issues with her father, authority in general, and her love life. This is conveyed without losing the seat-of-the-pants excitement that made the first two books such a pleasure. New characters supply the mis-steps that create the drama (at the heart of which we still find ‘Deck’, ‘Kai’ and ‘Con’).

Watson has a lot of fun working up Lovelace’s investigation of the distress call. The way the crew evaluates the paradox is deft. During their attempts to help, they find a couple of invisible worlds: Watson is a scientist, and knows how to build a good world, or two. There are humans and other species involved who have never heard of Uniterrae. It is with these that the conflicts reside which drive the book.

The heading of each chapter with an apposite quote is carried through this final novel: these continue to enrich the material which follows.

This is the shortest book of the three. It gallops along. ‘Deck’ and ‘Con’, her team leader, continue to get themselves into scrapes, but in this book they act on actual plans that have received some thought and probing for weaknesses (until they go wrong, which they always do of course). In between missions (for which read adventures) there is a lot more introspection than in the previous volumes. Some of the younger crew members, with partners on Lovelace, begin to wonder about the logistics of having children: some of the older crew begin to ponder retirement, or at least a change of career. Watson asks important questions of her cast shows her skill at developing character driven tales, as well as convincing Trekker-type space opera. The downtime is not overdone.

By the end of the book, however, the major players have their stories tied neatly with a bow. I found it quite hard to slow down to that pace after the page-turning adventure that had come before. But this is, of course, life: one cannot go on saving the universe forever. At some point one has to learn how to change that diaper, or accept that desk job. Or, possibly, both.

I shall miss the crew of the Lovelace. I wonder where Watson’s imagination will take her next? I look forward to following her on the journey wherever she goes. She is a fine writer, with an empathetic heart, and that good scientific background.

You can enjoy this book as a standalone. But I recommend reading all three, in order.

*All quotes from Amazon listings, unless otherwise stated.

** this review originally prepared for Big Al & Pals. Received a complimentary ARC.

Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed.

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