Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Sagittarius Command by R.M. Meluch - review

The Sagittarius Command
Book Three of the U.S.S. Merrimack series
R.M Meluch
SciFi (2007)

cover - I like the cover. There are weird things exploding in space, spaceships taking hits, and those strange little eating entities affectionately called Gorgons by the Navy and Marine crews that man the U.S.S. Merrimack.

One of the things I enjoy about some women SciFi authors is the interesting blend of science, SciFi, Space Opera/Odyssey, tough fighting marines, opposing factions, spies, enemies and the interpersonal relationships between all characters that all tend to evolve when people work and live together for long periods of time. Not to be sexist, but sometimes you don't get quite the blend I'm looking for with a male writer. I know some men write the type of stories I love to read - and then again there are some times when I enjoy a more "male" perspective. I certainly do not look for or enjoy when a SciFi or horror novel goes all gooey and lovestruck - overwhelming the story. I'm referring to the novels that tend to end up being a strong romance novel with some fantasy, SciFi, horror or U.F. just lightly blended into the book. To me, they tend to read as if the genre came second to the love story. Which is fine, if that's what you're looking for. It's just not what I'm looking for.

With the U.S.S. Merrimack series, the blending of SciFi, humor, horror and personal relationships have just the right touch. An overall theme in this series is the war between the Romans (who have left Earth to claim as much space and as many worlds as they can, while re-building the Roman Empire) and the United States government along with the horror aspects of the hive like behaviour of the Gorgons. The gorgons travel through space, seemingly impervious to any repeated attacks as they literally eat their way through space ships, planets and galaxies - eating anything organic. And they are attracted by same resonance that the space-going ships and planets use to send messages to each other. Not a good thing.

At the end of book two, Rome had surrendered to the United States - or rather, to John Farragut, the captain of the U.S.S. Merrimack. He took their surrender and now both sides are supposed to be cooperating or at least working together to find the home planet of the gorgons and destroy them. Farragut, a very interesting, almost absurdedly charismatic man is made Commodore of a five ship fleet. He's in charge of the whole operation. The Romans don't particularly want to work with him. His own crew seems to be intensely loyal to him because of his way with people and soldiers. He not only remembers small details of his crews, but when he talks to a crew member, they feel like they are the only person he's paying attention to at the moment. Even some of the men who hate him, his enemies can't help begrudginly respecting and liking him. He almost seems to good to be true - and could be considered the male version of a Mary Sue, except that the story is so fun to read, the dialog so engaging, and Farragut is not completely perfect. But he's a fun character to read with his almost superhero ways.

The fleet comes into quite a few scrapes, where it seems like all is lost, but they manage to pull through - and this would be kind of unbelievable, except that this is SciFi and the narration and dialogue is so fun, that I just enjoyed the scenes and the impossible saves.
In fact, I enjoyed this novel just as much - possibly a bit more than the first two novels. The only thing that kept this from being a Six on my scale was that there were a few instances where the characters began to speak philosophy a bit more than I enjoy reading. I'm not really into too much of that "thinking man's" dialogue. However, I am impressed that Meluch stayed away from massive infodumps - SciFi reading can sometimes be a little overwhelming to the unscientifically geared mind when introducing a scientific theory. There was a bit of information being passed along in the guise of dialogue - but thankfully this wasn't an overwhelming experience.

On the whole, loved reading The Sagittarius Command, enjoyed the fighting, the action, dialogue and characters. I'm blissfully going to grab that fourth novel in the series that's waiting over there on the shelf....

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