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The Risks of Dead Reckoning

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Naiche Decker thinks about the future and tracks a distress call in the present, in this fantastic third installment of the Lovelace Series.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a challenge for most of us, but it's especially difficult for Chiricahua Apache lieutenant Naiche Decker: she works aboard the starship Lovelace with her father, her best human friend, her best canine friend, and now her fiancé--fellow pilot Talako Jacoway. Decker has always been completely devoted to her job, but her forthcoming marriage has her thinking about the future. Will she and Jacoway have kids? If so, where will they settle down? And how will she ensure her kids don't feel abandoned--like Naiche felt when her own father left her to pursue his work? In Felicia Watson's The Risks of Dead Reckoning (Lovelace Series #3), Decker and Jacoway's tense discussions about these issues are soon interrupted by a strange energy transmission.


The Lovelace is on track to deliver a load of kiatilium (a pricey mineral needed to make stronger metal for ship hulls) when a high-tech distress call beams in. But this isn't just any signal: the contact claims to be from survivors of the starship Valiant--whose crew all died...hundreds of years ago. Intrigued, the Lovelace's crew tracks the beacon to a planet called Tolu, where they encounter a series of bizarre circumstances and deadly creatures. The supposed Valiant survivors behave in an odd childlike manner, and the native population of Tolu has split into three separate groups, each suspicious of one another. There are also vicious white dinosaur-sized birds that hold grudges and attack accordingly, as well as disgusting creepy-crawly veil-worms that are a few feet long. The Lovelace crew will have to confront the peculiar planet's warring population--as well as an outside group of mysterious all-powerful aliens called the Lignatians--to figure out what's really going on with the Valiant and Tolu.


Felicia Watson's Lovelace Series books are always an absolute delight to read, but I think this third installment is my favorite so far. The predicament of Tolu provides a perfect opportunity for both tense action sequences and thought-provoking ideas. Watson's characters wrestle with tough situations involving the irresponsibility of colonizers, the moment where justified vengeance turns into harmful greed, and the impossibility of true consent when an unequal power balance is in play--i.e. a misguided attempt to help can end up being a moral and ethical rights violation. The weighty questions of the wider mission blend seamlessly with Decker's personal life struggles with responsibility, in her case as a future parent, but also with her father's conflicted feelings about whether or not to move on from his time as captain. Like father like daughter, you could say, and ultimately at the end of The Risks of Dead Reckoning, it feels like the characters and the series have really hit their stride.


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Michelle Hogmire is a West Virginian writer with an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. She's the co-founder of the Appalachian social justice publication The Haint. Her work has been featured in BOMB, KGB Bar Lit Mag, and Columbia Journal. She's currently finishing her first book in Chicago.

Knowing Where the Rocks Are

About the author

Felicia started writing stories as soon as they handed her a pencil in first grade. She’s especially drawn to character driven tales, where we see people we recognize, people who struggle with their mistakes and shortcomings, acknowledge them, and use that knowledge to grow into wiser human beings. view profile

Published on March 16, 2021

Published by D X Varos

70000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Science Fiction

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