Doomstar – Edmund “World Wrecker” Hamilton
(Only one planetary system bites it)
Trader Johnny Kettrick, who has been banned from the Cluster on pain of the Interworld Commission taking extreme measures against him, is somewhat surprised to be begged to take on a mission for the I-C: using his knowledge of the Cluster worlds and races and his other unique talents (everybody loves Johnny) to find and stop the Doomstar. I also liked the policeman enemy-turned-ally character, he was great.
I shall not damn this book with faint praise, but I shall praise it: it’s a damn good old-school rousing space opera adventure.
Justinian’s Flea – William Rosen
So this is actually a quick plug for a good nonfiction work which gives a pretty good, readable overview of the Roman Empire in the 6th (?) Century, the Gothic kingdoms, and Justinian. Despite its title, there isn’t all that much about the Plague; it’s relegated to about two chapters and then brief mentions as “the demon.” Mostly what I found interesting was the author’s ability to summarize general events in both the fading Western Roman Empire without making my eyes glaze over at the succession of emperors who get murdered and replaced by other emperors and Gothic kings who get murdered and replaced by other kings. He also briefly covers events in the larger world as well–the Vandalic kingdom in northern Africa and the Persian Empire of Khusro. (Bet you didn’t know that there was a Vandalic kingdom in northern Africa that got taken over by the Franks. Um. I think).
My overall takes? I’ve always been interested in this period (or at least, since reading Ringo/Flint’s Belisarius Series, which amusingly enough gets alluded to in this book); Justinian and Theodora, Belisarius and Antonina, Matasuntha and John the Sanguinary, Amalasuntha, Totila, Alboin–and Narses the eunuch general–are all incredibly interesting people in an era with a tremendous amount of things happening in it. So, yep; need to read more about it.
Let me tell you about my ideas for incorporating the Nika Riots into my Star Wars prequels re-imagining, sometime….