Shockwave by Lindsay Buroker
My newsletter subscribers have already heard the saga behind how I discovered Lindsay Buroker’s books. I hadn’t read sci-fi and fantasy for a long time, and after reading Star Nomad, I promptly binge read several of her other series. When my hubby and I planned a road trip with a friend, I recommended we listen to the audio version of this one. It made the twelve-hour drive fly by.
When Casmir Dabrowski was young, he built a robot to defend him from bullies. Now a robotics professor, his smarts have earned him the respect of his peers. Life is good—until one of his former robotic creations comes to assassinate him.
Forced to flee his conservative home world of Oden, Casmir and his brilliant-but-socially awkward roommate, Kim, hop aboard the first ship leaving orbit, but Casmir’s troubles don’t end in space. As if his seizures and motion sickness weren’t bad enough, Casmir finds himself entangled with bounty hunters, pirates, and the most feared criminal in the Star Kingdom: Captain Tenebris Rache.
Rache’s reputation doesn’t garner trust, but the mercenary captain may be the only one with the answers to Casmir’s most pressing questions.
Who wants to kill him, and why?
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you could have guessed that I’d go for a robotics engineer protagonist. Casmir is so delightful that I will forego my usual complaint about smart characters being portrayed as physically deficient even though, statistically, higher IQ correlates with better health. His health quirks impact the larger plot, so I’ll let Buroker get away with it, especially since several of her other books feature intelligent and physically capable characters, including this one (Kim kicks butt).
Quirky and charismatic, Casmir’s love of comic books and fizz-op either earn people’s undying loyalty or make them want to kill him. Personally, I enjoyed this refreshingly geeky change from the usual badass space opera hero. Kim, the socially awkward microbiologist, balances his quirks with her standfast adherence to logic. You might say she is the Spock to Casmir’s Kirk.
The other characters complete what I expect from a Buroker ensemble—a mix of sophistication and snark that engenders snappy dialogue and fantastic conflict. Each character brings their own skill set, including Kim’s microbiology expertise, which provides yet another refreshing change from the genre’s usual “let’s blow it up” strategy.
Accustomed to listening to long-winded fantasy tales on road trips, my husband complained this book was too action-packed. When he got distracted by changing lanes or other driving tasks, he missed whole fight scenes. I’ll let you decide whether that’s a positive or a negative, but I will say that this book prevented me from falling asleep at the wheel.
Buroker has a genuine talent for snarky dialogue, but she sometimes takes the innuendo a little too far for my tastes. Her prose is professional and polished, pleasant to read but not swoon-worthy, likely because she writes so fast.
As I mentioned, I listened to the audiobook omnibus of the first three books while driving. Buroker couldn’t have chosen a better narrator to voice Casmir. Fred Berman captures Casmir’s quirks perfectly, and he does an admirable job making distinct voices for each character. I listened to a few of Buroker’s other books while we had a free trial of audible, but Fred Berman was my favorite narrator by far.
Shockwave provides a refreshingly geeky twist on the usual space opera hero without sacrificing the action-packed space battles you know and love. With snappy dialogue and an intriguing cast of characters, Buroker creates a world worth travelling to. My hubby and I bought the entire series in audio, so we’ll have enough to last many happy road trips.
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