Every now and then, while wading through a stiff read (in this case, Olmstead’s 524 page History of the Persian Empire), I have to take a break. In this case, I fell into something I got out of a used bookstore, Bill Baldwn’s The Helmsman from 1985.
So the universe apparently is a very class-conscious place, with the nobles on the top, and Carescrian ore-miners (such as our hero, Wilf Brim) on the bottom. Evidently recent legislation has opened up the academy to guttertrash such as Wilf and he’s made it through with a sub-Luitenancy, ready to report to his first ship, the destroyer Truculent. And, of course, nobody likes him, which is to be expected. And he’ll go on to prove himself, which is also expected.
Still, I really liked the novel. When Brim is given the helm of the ship to move out (at restricted speed, in a blinding snowstorm, and a noble-helmed ship pressing close), it’s quite a nail-biter, especially since his career is on the line should he scuff one fleck of paint. The action is fun and furious, with Brim falling from one desperate situation to the next (the land battle, where he is stuffed in an alien tank with no training and forced to make do, was a little bit of a stretch, but still fun).
Of course, in an infinite universe, one can only expect to find a nemesis that you are always tripping over and our hero is no exception, repeatedly foiling (and insulting) Overprefict Valetin. And of course, in their showdown ship-to-ship slugfest, just before the baddie’s ship explodes, something (clutter, wreckage, an escape pod, perhaps?) flies clear.
And it’s a good thing, since Baldwin went on to write more of these yarns. If interested, you can find links on this site HERE to purchase the set.
Nothing Earth-shattering or new here, just a good space opera. I’d give it a guarded approval.