Galactic Outlaws: Galaxy's Edge #2
by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole
Kindle Edition, 308 pages
Published July 13th 2017 by Galaxy's Edge
Anspach and Cole surprised me a bit. After Legionnaire, I thought I knew what to expect out of this series. It turns out I was wrong.
What I expected was more of the same; more military adventures in a universe that was more Star Wars than Star Wars. While I did get that, I also got something quite unexpected; moral dilemmas that actually felt fraught and uncertain. Heroes that weren't quite heroic. Villains that weren't quite villainous. And I'm still not quite sure which ones were which.
We pick up the action seven years after the events of Legionnaire, in medias res. The corrupt and incompetent Republic is using its overwhelming military might to extract more tax revenue from some nameless shithole in the middle of nowhere. That shithole just happens to be where the galaxy's greatest bounty hunter, Tyrus Rechs, is. Which matters to us because a little girl who lost her father is looking for revenge in all the wrong places.
That hook is good enough to set in train a series of events that will change the galaxy. After Legionnaire, it was pretty clear that the galaxy needed changing. What isn't so clear is that anyone in a position to change it, will change it for the better. The men I desperately wanted to be heroes had a disconcerting tendency to shoot repentant sinners and former comrades. The men who were clearly set up to be villains usually had a point about who needed to be shot. In at least one case, those were the same guy.
In a manner reminiscent of Cole's books The Red King and Soda Pop Soldier, I keep finding references in the text to sci fi classics. For example, John Carter of Mars. I'm sure I missed some along the way, but I also appreciate the subtlety with which the story is enriched with references to other works. All authors are indebted to those who came before them, some are just better than others about acknowledging it.
The Galaxy's Edge series continues to be a page-turner for me. While this is clearly space opera, it has enough of a hard sci fi feel about it that I don't have to stop every so often to re-assert my suspension of disbelief. It feels like it could be real, which is the essence of any good story, in any genre. The characters also feel real. When they struggle, it is because the choices they face are genuinely difficult. Cole and Anspach's characters respond to what they see and feel. When they do something stupid, I generally think to myself, I suppose I might have done the same. I still hope they might choose otherwise, I'm just not surprised when the inevitable happens.
Given the twists here, I look forward to seeing what else is in store.