Buckell, Tobias S. -- Sly Mongoose

This was a heavily-delayed paperback, which means it's been almost four years since I read Ragamuffin. But then, I recall having trouble absorbing the space-opera background even then. The history behind everything is big and complicated, and we've been getting barely a soda-straw view of it per book.

In any case, we now alternate between Pepper (semi-immortal defender of humanity, cranky bastard) and Timas (a teenager growing up in a ramshackle-poor mining town). Pepper drops into down just ahead of an invasion force of zombies. I honestly didn't need the zombies. I mean, I just read that Gibson screenplay for Alien 3, which has essentially the same plot, and how long has that been floating around? There's nothing wrong with it as a zombie plot -- we get chase scenes, fight scenes, pirate battles, secret enclaves of aliens, the usual. Not to mention that everything takes place a hundred miles up in the air above a Venus-like planet (with bonus scenes down in The Murk). All plausibly grimy and nuts-and-bolts-y.

Pepper is interesting, now that we get a closer look at him. (He may have been interesting last book but I didn't get into him then.) Throwing him into a narrative with a teenager is surprisingly effective; not only is everybody a kid to him, but Pepper is, in some senses, too old to be a mature adult. Things wrap up with suitable drama and enough space-operatic scope to satisfy me. A fat straw's-worth of new history, you know, like you get for the bubble tea.

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