When visiting Forbidden Planet earlier in the year, I was delighted to find this offering on the shelves and given it isn’t available as an ebook in this country, I scooped it up with glee and have taken far too long to get around it, given how much I enjoyed the first book, Empire of Dust – see my review here.
Ben Benjamin, psi-tech Navigator, and Cara Carlinni, Telepath, can never go home again. To the Trust and Alphacorp alike, they are wanted criminals. Murder, terrorism, armed insurrection, hijacking, grand theft, and kidnapping are just the top of a long list of charges they’ll face if they’re caught. So they better not get caught…
That’s as much of the rather chatty blurb I’m willing to share, as it gives away far too many plotpoints relating to the first book for my liking and if you are going to get the best out of Crossways, I recommend that you first get hold of Empire of Dust.
This is another action-packed offering featuring Ben and Cara, who have gone up against two of the major corporations running humanity, both in space and on the colonies scattered through space. Faster-than-lightspeed travel is possible by travelling through the Void by using jumpships. There are a couple of major snags to this technology, though. The first is that you need highly trained jumpship pilots, who can mentally visualise their destination and using their neural energy, pull the ship through the Void without being distracted by the monsters swimming through voidspace conjured up by their imagination. And the other problem is that jumpships need platinum to work, always a rare commodity.
I really like the fact that Ben and Cara are thoroughly ensnared by these two issues – the first novel focuses on what happens when a large deposit of platinum is discovered in a very inconvenient place and the crimes some people are prepared to commit to get their hands on it. In this book, while the antagonist is clearly ambitious and greedy, there is an ongoing problem – what will happen to farflung colonies and the rule of law if jumpships run critically short of this vital fuel?
The other issue is what happens in the Void – this was touched upon in Empire of Dust, but Bedford further examines just how lethal travelling by jumpship can be. There is a steady stream of ships that never make it out of the Void, including the one carrying Ben’s own parents when he was a child. His own experiences within the Void are increasingly causing him to question what he was told in his training – that those monsters he sees swimming through the hull of his ship while in the Void are products of his imagination and that he is to ignore them at all costs. Because if he makes the mistake of trying to interact with them, there is a likelihood he will be distracted, and given it is his mental focus that pulls the jumpship free of the Void, that could spell disaster for everyone on board.
These issues are unpacked in amongst a foot-to-floor action-packed adventure, where Ben and Cara are struggling to stay alive, while a number of the most powerful organisations in the galaxy want them dead. I am delighted to report that I have also got the third book in this trilogy, Nimbus, and I will be tucking into it very soon. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, well written space opera and highly recommended for fans of the genre.