DiscoverScience Fiction

StarFire Dragons

By

Worth reading 😎

A subtle space opera that explores the ethical conundrums of intergalactic relations with main characters who are worth rooting for.

Synopsis

The year is 3790. In the galactic region just beyond Cooperative territory lives a brutal warrior race. When a starship on a mission of science finds two warriors have crashed on a Cooperative planet, the crew is divided as to what to do. Principles, politics, and prejudice clash as more is discovered about these young warriors and their remarkable abilities. Commander J.D. Hapker, new and unsure of his position as second in command, risks both his career and his crew by taking charge of them. His struggle between what is right and what is necessary intensifies as every option threatens to ignite a war.

StarFire Dragons is a space opera about a crew of intergalactic explorers who rescue two enemy children after their ship crash-lands onto a terraforming planet. Commander J.D. Hapker is tasked with gaining the trust of one of the boys, Jori, while his brother lies in a coma. Loyalties are challenged, prejudices are unearthed, and the prospect of war looms ominously in the distance as Hapker and Jori navigate their moral and cultural differences.


I was immediately struck by this book’s similarities—at least in the worldbuilding—to Star Trek, but fans of the franchise are likely to find this appealing. The one thing about this world that I really liked was that there were no true “aliens,” just humans who had terraformed other planets and evolved to those conditions. Personally, I found it refreshing.


My major criticism is that after the inciting incident, it felt like it took a long time for the plot to move. Now, as someone who’s not a huge fan excessive action to begin with, I’m not asking that it be something that it’s not. But there were a lot of chapters where it felt like the characters were rehashing the same conversation over and over again. The story was so focused on the main plot line that I honestly forgot what the ship was meant to be doing in the first place. I felt like there should’ve been something going on in the background, even if it was disrupted by the arrival of the boys. But for most of the book, the ship doesn’t seem to have any purpose short of harboring its enemy passengers… it felt more like a set than a location.


However, what this story does try to do, it does well. The relationship that develops between Hapker and Jori throughout the book was my favorite part, and on the whole, I thought the character development was strong. It felt natural, it took its time, and it made you care.


Aside from that, there were some places where I felt like the narrative didn’t trust the reader to pick up on things like character motivation. But overall, I enjoyed the interplay of ethical conundrums, the well thought-out worldbuilding, and the likable protagonists.


I recommend this book to fans of Star Trek and other such intergalactic space exploration stories that are more character-focused. I would totally read the next book to see what happens next.

Reviewed by

Freelance writer and content developer by day, blogger and aspiring author by night. However, my only professional goal has always been to make a living doing what I love most: reading and writing! At my core, I'm just a goof who loves a good story.

Synopsis

The year is 3790. In the galactic region just beyond Cooperative territory lives a brutal warrior race. When a starship on a mission of science finds two warriors have crashed on a Cooperative planet, the crew is divided as to what to do. Principles, politics, and prejudice clash as more is discovered about these young warriors and their remarkable abilities. Commander J.D. Hapker, new and unsure of his position as second in command, risks both his career and his crew by taking charge of them. His struggle between what is right and what is necessary intensifies as every option threatens to ignite a war.

The Blue Blight

3790:256:02:22. Year 3790, day 256, 02:22 hours, Prontaean time as per the last sync.

A rising vibration hummed through J.D. Hapker’s body as he phased from the space vessel onto the planet. The phasing sensation dissipated and a chill from this world’s atmosphere took over. Regret for not wearing a helmet sunk in as the tips of his ears and nose turned raw from the cold. The planet air filtered by his nosepiece filled his lungs and radiated throughout his body like a morning frost.

His form-fitting enviro-suit quickly adjusted to the temperature but it took a moment longer for him to regain his bearings. He put his hands on his hips and scanned the distant horizon. The lines between the slate-blue land, ocean, and sky merged seamlessly like a vast heavy blanket of twilight fog.

Only stunted plants grew yet it was more than what had been here a couple decades ago when the terraforming experiment started. Back then, the planet contained only microbial life hidden beneath an infinite bleakness of pale-blue ice. No wonder it was nicknamed the Blue Blight.

A heaviness settled over him that had nothing to do with the planet’s strong gravitational force. How had his life come to this? He’d made his parents so proud by following the same career path as his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before him.

But it wasn’t enough—not for him anyway. The time he’d spent vacationing with his family in the forests of his homeworld made him want to explore further. So in a decision his father felt was rash and irresponsible, Hapker left home for a career in space.

This was supposed to be a new adventure, but things weren’t going as expected. The decisions were harder, the ethics fuzzier, and his superiors less forgiving. One incident gone awry and now his life had taken a turn as cheerless as this land. If this second chance didn’t work out, he’d have to return home an utter failure and face the perpetual disappointment of his father.

Hapker pushed down a rising sense of gloom and walked heavily toward the team of nearby scientists. Gravity made his trek slow and arduous. No dust billowed from under his feet. No marks were made on the dense terrain. He was like an elephant tromping on stone. 

Excited banter reached him as he arrived within earshot of the terra-team. One of the science officers tapped his finger on the viewscreen with apparent glee. Hapker looked on with envy. It had been a long time since he’d been this excited about his own job.

All conversation cut off at Hapker’s approach.

“Doctor Canthidius,” he said casually in greeting to the lead science officer. The man looked up but neither smiled nor returned the greeting.

Doctor Holgarth Canthidius’s features were more extreme than any Hapker had encountered in his travels thus far. The man’s eyes were like those of a tropical fish. His skin was grey with a hint of blue and he had a round sucker-like mouth.

Since Canthidius came from the nearly all ocean planet of Nomare, his resemblance to a fish seemed a cosmic joke. Hapker would have thought the man was a space alien if he didn’t already know such beings beyond a few lower-life forms hadn’t been discovered yet. As a human, Canthidius was much the same as every other person in the galaxy. But the passing generations of people spread over a wide variety of ecosystems had greatly diversified human characteristics.

“Did you find something interesting?” Hapker asked.

“Nothing that would interest you, Commander,” Canthidius said.

Hapker clenched his jaw. He was the Vice Executive Commander of the Odyssey, the largest and most advanced science and service vessel of the Prontaean Colonial Cooperative. It was his job to monitor the progress of his crew, even if he didn’t understand all of what they were doing.

But Canthidius was right to resent him. He had little in common with his new crew. Early in his adult life, he served as a Pholatian Protector. Later, he became a high-ranking military officer with the Prontaean Galactic Force. Though he never really fit in with the PG-Force’s hard-core attitudes, his combat and strategic skills meant he had more in common with them than he did with these scientists and engineers.

“Give me an abbreviated version anyway,” he said brusquely to the doctor.

Canthidius went into a long explanation full of technical terms, no doubt talking over his head on purpose.

Hapker suppressed a frown. His lack of understanding made his mind to wander as the man rattled on. When the comm beeped in Hapker’s ear, he eagerly raised his hand to stop Canthidius. He pressed the lower part of the comm-strip taped on his neck below his ear lobe. “Hapker here. Go ahead.”

“Commander, we have a situation here,” Captain Arden said. “I need everyone to return to the ship immediately.”

Hapker shifted into high alert. He saw no immediate threat, but his training didn’t allow him to take this as anything less than serious. “Yes, Sir.”

He released the comm and addressed the scientists. “The captain wants us all back on the ship, now.”

“What? Why?” Canthidius replied with a look of consternation.

“No time for questions, Doctor. If you want to know the reason, you can ask the captain yourself, after we get back on the ship.”

Canthidius pursed his fish-like lips in apparent reluctance. Captain Silas Arden had never served in the military, but his crew respected him in the same way everyone respected a general.


About the author

Dawn Ross isn't just a wife and mother or entrepreneur and volunteer. She is an artist and writer. The primary subject of her artwork is animals. She primarily writes in science-fiction and fantasy. She is married and has two adopted children. view profile

Published on January 15, 2020

80000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Science Fiction

Reviewed by

Enjoyed this review?

Get early access to fresh indie books and help decide on the bestselling stories of tomorrow. Create your free account today.

or

Or sign up with an email address

Create your account

Or sign up with your social account