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Space Pirates, a Murderous AI, and a Haunted House in Space: The Shieldrunner Pirates Trilogy by R. E. Stearns

Thursday, February 13th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Barbary Station-small Mutiny at Vesta-small Gravity of a Distant Sun-small

Covers by Martin Deschambeault (left, middle) and Jon McCoy Art (right)

R. E. Stearns’s science fiction debut Barbary Station, the opening novel in the Shieldrunner Pirates trilogy, 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. Kirkus called it “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.” We covered it enthusiastically in 2017Mutiny at Vesta arrived in 2018, and in her Tor.com review, Liz Bourke wrote:

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.

The Shieldrunner Pirates trilogy is the kind adventurous space opera I really enjoy. Unfortunately, if Amazon reviews are anything to go by, it doesn’t seem to have found an audience. Barbary Station had a healthy 32 reviews when it was released in 2017; Mutiny at Vesta had only two, a disaster in publishing terms. The third, Gravity of a Distant Sun, will not have a hardcover release; it arrives in trade paperback on February 18.

If you’ve read and enjoyed this series, do me a favor and write an online review. And if you haven’t, here’s a peek at the back covers for all three books, with just a sample of the praise they’ve received. Have a look — this just may turn into your favorite new series.

[Click the images for space opera-sized versions.]

Barbary Station-back-small Mutiny at Vesta-back-small Gravity of a Distant Sun-back-small

Here’s the publishing details for all three books.

Barbary Station (448 pages, $27.99 hardcover/$16.99 trade paperback/$7.99 digital, October 31, 2017) — cover by Martin Deschambeault
Mutiny at Vesta (464 pages, $27.99 hardcover/$16.99 trade paperback/$7.99 digital, October 16, 2018) — cover by Martin Deschambeault
Gravity of a Distant Sun (432 pages, $16.99 trade paperback/$7.99 digital, February 18, 2020) — cover by Jon McCoy Art

All three are published by Saga Press.

See all of our recent coverage in the best SF and fantasy series here.

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