Saturday, August 05, 2006

Star Risk - Chris Bunch

Chris Bunch used to write episodes for the popular American TV show, The A-Team, and his Star Risk series is akin to a cross between The A-Team and Star Trek.

The first Star Risk book, Star Risk (Orbit, ISBN: 1841494534) introduces the group of mercenaries of Star Risk, Ltd. They will take on any mission, no matter how dangerous, so long as the price is right. M'chel Riss spent eight years as an Alliance Marine, earning the rank of major, before she took up the life of the mercenary. She is sent to "rescue" a small girl from her estranged father by the girl's mother and during the rescue mission she encounters Frederick von Baldur, who is supposed to be the girl's bodyguard. Shortly afterwards von Baldur approaches Riss and offers here a job in a mercenary outfit he's setting up. The two are joined by a woman named Jasmine King, with a formidable talent for organisation and her friend Grok, a large furry alien who specialises in electronics. Their first mission is to spring a dangerous super-soldier, Chas Goodnight, who is being held on death row in a maximum-security prison. If they can do this, then Goodnight's brother will give them a contract that they want.

The Scoundrel Worlds (Orbit, ISBN: 1841494542) sees the members of Star Risk, Ltd. hired to complete two missions. The first involves the most popular and dangerous game in the solar system, Skyball. The referees who are overseeing matches between two planets have been threatened (one has even been killed) and the Star Risk team are hired to ensure that things stay fair and that the referees stay alive. The second mission is slightly more complicated: Maen Sufyerd, head of the Strategic Intelligence Division has been tried and convicted of treason for selling sensitive secrets to his world's greatest enemy. Jen Reynold, former premier and friend of Sufyerd, is certain he's innocent, so he hires Star Risk to find out who really sold the secrets and why, preferably before Sufyerd is executed. Unfortunately, the world's different factions all have their own idea about what should be done, forcing Star Risk not to just do some pretty tricky detective work, but to deflect these factions long enough to stay alive.

In The Doublecross Program (Orbit, ISBN: 1841494550) M'chel Riss and the Star Risk, team are given a rather strange assignment: a staged bank robbery that involves putting money back, not stealing it ! Their second mission sees them caught up in a war over an addictive new consumer product and the mercenaries find themselves relying on every resource available in order to make some money out of the mission, and to stay alive.

I have to say that I didn't enjoy these books a huge amount as I didn't find the characters very well drawn, and the intense military/space setting is not the sort of setting I enjoy. However, I can see that they would appeal to young men and to those who enjoy war films and/or space stories.

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