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Mystery, Megacorps, and a Murderous A.I.: The Shieldrunner Pirates by R. E. Stearns

Thursday, November 8th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Barbary-Station-medium Mutiny at Vesta-small

Kirkus Reviews called Barbary Station, the opening novel in R.E. Stearns’ Shieldrunner Pirates trilogy, “Super cool… It mixes unpredictable mysteries, a murderous AI, space battles, [and] an awesome and fashionable Pirate Leader… a blend of Die Hard and The Illuminae Files.” Stearns’ debut featured two engineers who hijack a spaceship to join a band of space pirates, only to discover the pirates are hiding from a malevolent AI. We covered it enthusiastically last year.

The sequel Mutiny at Vesta arrived right on time last month, and it picks up the story without missing a beat. In her Tor.com review, Liz Bourke writes:

Stearns has written a worthy successor… If Barbary Station was a variant on the gothic novel in space (complete with a haunted house in the form of a space station), Mutiny at Vesta is a nested, layered series of capers in which Adda and Iridian work with limited resources and the pressure of time and other people’s competing priorities to pull off the damn-near impossible… Stearns writes measured, tense, and intense space opera, filled with a diverse selection of believable characters. I really enjoyed this book.

Here’s the publisher’s description.

[Click the images for pirate-sized versions.]

Adda and Iridian have survived the murderous AI that tried to kill them in Barbary Station… but now they’ll need all of their ingenuity to escape the evil megacorporation that wants to own them, in this second space adventure in the Shieldrunner Pirates trilogy.

Adda Karpe and Iridian Nassir have escaped the murderous AI that was trapping them on Barbary Station, and earned themselves a place on Captain Sloane’s fabled pirate crew. And now that they’ve arrived at Vesta, Sloane’s home base, they can finally start making a living stealing from well-off megacorporations.

Unfortunately, the political situation has deteriorated in Captain Sloane’s absence. Adda and Iridian find themselves trapped in a contract with Oxia Corp., one of the very megacorporations they’d hoped to prey on, forced to rob and intimidate targets they’d never have chosen on their own. If they’re ever going to have the independent life together that they’ve always wanted, they’ll have to free themselves from Oxia Corp. first. Meanwhile, the inhuman allies who followed Adda and Iridian from Barbary Station have plans of their own, which may be more dangerous than the humans involved could imagine. It will take not one but five heists, and every bit of ingenuity Adda and Iridian have to escape from Oxia and find the life they’ve always dreamed of… if they can survive.

Mutiny at Vesta was published by Saga Press on October 16, 2018. It is 480 pages, priced at $27.99 in hardcover, $16.99 in trade paperback, and $7.99 for the digital editions. The cover is by Martin Deschambault; check out the entertaining Cover Reveal at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

See all of our coverage of the best SF and Fantasy series fiction here.

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