Starship: Flagship by Mike Resnick (Starship 5)

Mike Resnick Starship series is a rather absurd space opera about Wilson Cole. He starts out a hero of the republic, fall from grace in Mutiny (1), become a Pirate (2), earn his living as a Mercenary (3), Rebel (4) against the unmoral republic and lead the fight for a better more democratic society in the final book of the series Flagship (5).

It is Space Opera, it’s military science fiction of sorts. Some of the gods of military sf would probably turn in their graves, other would enjoy it. What is refreshing is the nontraditional tactics used by the main character. Non violent and media centric, which is a clever reflection on our own time.

Mike touches lightly on the ethics of ‘hash interogation’ for the greater good when some of his men are taken prisoner, there isn’t much reflection which I think is a weakness. Appendix 5 Ethics adresses this and the ethical dilemas dealt with in the other  books.

After defeating a fleet of 300 Navy ships at Singapore Station in Rebel. Cole and his allies still face a Republic with more than three and a half million navy ships. Even with the odds against him, Cole sets out to topple the republic leaders through clever tactics and by playing the media.

Cole disperse his fleet into the Republic to attack where they can and uses the media to fool the Republic to think he is responsible for everything that goes wrong, he soon have them overreacting, bombing their own planets, claiming they are rebel bases. He also cleverly uses recently abandoned planets, which he bombs, and then claim they where bombed by the rebels, using the governments usual tactics of denial against them.

I shouldn’t reveal to much about the ending but Cole uses a Trojan horse tactics in the end. But before he really can finish another action take precedence and the story ends in more grand but vague gestures. To be frank the ending left me unsatisfied, the other books left me wanting more, it feels like the author rushed it.

The dialogue is snappy with lots of friendly banter which I enjoy.

The story is easy to read and quite amusing at times.  Everything goes according to plan, there are no glitches, maybe the length of the book (it’s only 308 pages plus appendixes) didn’t allow it.

The technology in starship series border on the absurd, traveling thousand of light years in seconds, obliterating planets with a few missiles. But Space Opera is Space Opera.

The characters are colorful, likable but not very deep. The main character Wilson Cole have almost no inner dialogue which I miss in the ethic dilemmas. There is a rich person gallery for example Val the redheaded former pirate queen set on fighting the whole republic at once, Octopus a megalomaniacal criminal kingpin with eight hands, the Platinum Duke a cyborg and last but not least an alien who thinks he is David Copperfield and that Cole is his classmate Seafort.

Starship: Flagship is an amusing space opera

Order: amazon.com amazon.co.uk

See also:
An interview with Mike Resnick about Starship: Flagship on SciFiBookShelf.com