The Circuit: Executor Rising
Take a step into the mind of grief-stricken ex-Tribune Cassius Vale in this new space opera by Rhett Bruno.
Cassius is working to change the world. His son, Caleb, was killed while investigating and researching the ruined landscape of planet Earth, and now Cassius has a vendetta against the powerful New Earth Tribunal of the Kepler Circuit of colonies. A mad tinkerer with the skills of Daedalus, Cassius has created a learning robot, against all human laws, to carry out his divine will. The bot is called ADIM (or Automated Dynamic Intelligence Mech), and the entire focus of his juvenile intelligence is on devotion to Cassius. Meanwhile, Executor Sage Volus (a position similar to the Citadel Council’s Spectre in video game Mass Effect) is sent out on a mission by Cassius’ enemy – also her unwanted lover, Tribune Benjar Vakari of the New Earth Tribunal, to investigate an unsettling number of thefts.
Executors report to the Tribunal and Volus is no exception, despite her love and loyalty for Cassius. Her loyalties become further twisted when she meets devoted father and mercenary Talon Rayne who has no love for the New Earth Tribunal. Talon’s dying of the Blue Death – an incurable sickness acquired after a Gravity Generator exploded. Talon needs to set his daughter up with enough resources so that she doesn’t become a rich man’s whore, so he takes a job stealing from a Tribune’s personal transport for the wealthy clan leader’s son Zaimur Morastus. Volus embeds with Talon’s mercenary unit and grows fond of them to her own despair.
Bruno has done a good job of tangling up all these lives together while maintaining coherence and interest. The plot fits securely in the space opera genre, yet doesn’t lag or sow boredom despite its predictable qualities. The writing style is clear and coherent with a large focus on description – my eyes crossed a bit at all the blue light and bippity boopity descriptions of the space ships, but if one really wanted to imagine they were present with Cassius or Sage, they could certainly do so.
I have a bone to pick with the author on the characters, though. They also fit into standard space opera tropes (which is fine), but the female characters were sadly lacking variety or depth. Sage is raped repeatedly by Benjar Vakari as a throw away plot device (trigger warning!), Talon’s child’s mother is a prostitute, his daughter is threatened with rape and prostitution, and Zaimur Morastus uses women as props (imagine the scene with Leia and Jabba the Hutt). There is more to women than being subjugated through sex – but apparently not in the author’s mind for the Kepler Circuit. That’s unfortunate.
The ending wraps up the novel’s events suitably well while still leaving a lot of space for the next book of the planned duology. In sum, the novel is a decent space opera that fans of Firefly and its ilk will appreciate, but the author needs to expand his repertoire when developing female characters.
|Page Count||271 pages|
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|Category||Science Fiction & Fantasy|