DISCLOSURE: I am Twitter buddies with the author.
After a botched delivery of rocket boosters to a group of terraformers, space trucker E. Z. Sudden is attacked by a robotic empire. He gets away and seizes valuable cargo from a human-crewed ship they destroyed, but the cargo turns out to be something far more valuable than he ever imagined: Karenina, a nobleman’s daughter on the run from scheming aristocrats who seek to end her life. Now the space trucker found himself thrust into a political struggle that may well bring war to the galaxy. What’s an ordinary working stiff to do?
This is Sudden Rescue, a novel by fellow Pulp Revolutionary Jon Mollison.
First of all, the story’s length is just right; long enough to be satisfying, but completely free of the bloat and filler common to longer works. The story keeps all events, even the downtime, relevant to the plot, with just enough extra description to set the scene. As a result, long chapters don’t feel long since no moments are wasted.
Sudden’s character traits are simple and well-defined, but his practical attitude toward things still makes for interesting reading, since his job as a long-haul freighter takes him to lots of dangerous places. He feels like a straight-ahead guy who just wants to get the job done; as a result, he doesn’t theorize about things or act nervous in the face of peril. Karenina, on the other hand, is the total opposite: a prim and proper aristocrat with an elevated speech pattern and a preference for clean aesthetics and polite manners. Her character is feminine, yet firm, as she does not panic very much, but she is out of her element on Sudden’s freighter.
Special mention goes to the interactions between Sudden and Karenina. The interactions are something increasingly rare in modern fiction of all kinds, especially speculative fiction: a masculine man interacting with a feminine woman. As Sudden’s practicality and simplicity collide with Karenina’s sheltered upbringing and elaborate manners, it just feels right. Sudden’s protective instinct and Karenina’s aristocratic outlook form a lovely, sexually polarized contrast that does not resort to the extremes of crude domination or explicit sex. Even when Karenina trades harsh words with him, she does not attempt to one-up Sudden in his areas of expertise, and she nonetheless allows Sudden to help her. It felt very refreshing to read something that affirmed, rather than attacked, the notion of male and female, a notion very much in our blood.
If there is anything to criticize, it is the small number of typos in the book. They were jarring to encounter, but they were few and far between; all of the book has competent spelling and editing. There’s also a twist at the end that is quite sudden indeed; the author could have done just a little more to foreshadow it, but what is in the book is quite good on its own. Overall, this book has few real faults.
For old-fashioned adventure, as well as a masculine hero and feminine princess that Hollywood would never give you, Sudden Rescue is definitely a book you don’t want to miss. Buy a copy today.