Volume 24, Number 3, Spring 2006

Starship: Mutiny

By Mike Resnick

Pyr Books, 2005, $25.00 , ISBN 1591023378
Reviewed by Anders Monsen

Wilson Cole is a misfit, a malcontent, a rebel, and a commander aboard a military spaceship in the middle of a war. In Starship: Mutiny, Mike Resnick embarks for the first time into the world of military sf. This sub-genre inside science fiction demands by its very nature a great deal of action, and Resnick delivers perhaps too much action. The pace of incidents and sticky situations marches across the pages with nary a moment for the reader to catch a breath, or really feel comfortable with Cole’s character.

Cole reports for duty on the Teddy Roosevelt, an old and apparently useless military ship stationed far out on the rim. Its crew consists of other malcontents, drug addicts, and people who no longer give a damn about life outside their own shell. Aboard the Teddy R, Cole finds himself in a familiar position. He’s a man who cares about winning the war, and dislikes the strictures and regulations imposed on him by the military hierarchy. Whoever said military intelligence was an oxymoron probably is Cole’s intellectual mentor, for Cole’s actions are dictated by his personal code. On two prior occasions his actions went against strict orders. While this resulted in career-stunting demotions, it also brought great public glory for Cole, and many regulars and civilians see him as a hero.

Wilson Cole quickly finds both friends and enemies aboard the Teddy R. On his very first day, while acting as duty officer in charge of the bridge, he spots an enemy vessel on a nearby planet. Without consulting his superiors, he sets off at once and engages the enemy. Once again he embarrasses his superiors and the high command through his actions, but gains further acclaim through media channels and the people that he encounters on the ground. It’s tough not to like Cole, but at the same time you get the feeling that he would be a difficult person to work alongside.

Rather quickly after this incident, Resnick sends Cole into two more major incidents, one of which results in the death of the Teddy R’s captain. Podok, the officer immediately above Cole is promoted and takes command. The new captain is an absolute stickler for orders and rules, and despises Cole for his free-swinging methods and attitude. Podok’s also an alien, something which surfaces later as a vehicle to discuss racism as motivation for Cole’s action. For when Podok destroys a planet populated by millions of innocent humans just to follow orders, and aims weapons with the same intent upon another planet, Cole lives up to the title of the novel, and assumes command of the Teddy R.

The mutiny, however, is not a permanent one, and Cole turns himself in when he believes the situation is under control. However, he discovers that military rules align themselves more easily to Podok’s worldview than his own, and finds himself facing the ultimate punishment. At this point he finds help from unexpected places, and once again, mutiny becomes the keyword.

Starship: Mutiny is the first in a five-book series. Readers not averse to questioning authority will find themselves quickly on the side of Wilson Cole, but with little pre-history of Cole’s life related in this novel—though constantly alluded to by the people who know Cole—it feels at times like this is the second part in a series, not the lead-off book. Watching Cole’s development through the rest of the series will be interesting, though hopefully Resnick will temper the pace of actions lightly to allow for greater character development.

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