I was looking for space opera.
If you don’t know what space opera is, it’s Star Wars. Lots of space ships. Battles between them. A clear-cut hero. A clear-cut villain. Maybe some alien supporting characters. Maybe a little romance.
Lightless by C.A. Higgins partially delivers the goods as far as space opera goes. There are space ships. There is some romance. There are battles. There is a clear-cut hero, heroine actually. There are villains, but who they are exactly will depend on what the reader brings to the book.
As far as action goes, Lightless is more of an intellectual thriller than a true, outright shoot-em-up space opera.
The story opens with pirates boarding the Ananke, a new spaceship equipped with weaponry and other technologies that even the crew does not fully understand. The pirates fail to take the ship but not before infecting it with an unusually powerful computer virus. One pirate gets a way, the other is captured by the crew. Turns out, he is a terrorist, or a revolutionary, depending on whose side you are on.
Althea, our clear-cut heroine-is tasked with debugging the ship’s computer while a government officer is sent to interrogate the captured pirate/saboteur Ivan. Althea soon finds that the computer virus includes a program designed to detonate a series of bombs. Are these bombs on the ship? the nearby planet? or on a series of planets?
Can she fix the ship’s computers in time to stop them? Can the government interrogator get Ivan to confess his plans before they go into action? What are his plans, exactly? Maybe he is as innocent as he says he is.
It was fun. While it did go on a bit longer than it needed to, Lightless didn’t become one of those huge books where everyone sits around discussing strategy and filling in the back story. I am seriously done with “world-building.” Lightless gets on with the action. However, in this case much of the action is interrogation in one form or another. It is interesting– think Clarice Starling interviewing Hannibal Lector. Interrogation scenes can be very exciting reading.
But towards the end things got a little, not predictable exactly, but there was a key twist that I figured out in advance which was enough to make an otherwise entertaining read a little disappointing for me at least. Lightless is the first in a trilogy, but I feel like I have closure on Althea’s story overall. But you never know.