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Star Corpsman 2: Abyss Deep
by Ian Douglas
Harper Voyager, 2013, $7.99, 373pp
Release Date: October 29, 2013
William H. Keith, Jr., writing as Ian Douglas, is himself a former naval corpsman, so he gets it right – everything from the anatomical and medical details to the human interactions when life and death are on the line, and the emotional aftermaths. His experiences make this a great story, and his commanding knowledge of burgeoning nanotechnology makes this great SF. His descriptions of the human, AI, and nano interfaces that simulate telekinesis and telepathy, among other abilities and enhancements, are dazzling! And the plot is first rate as well.

Elliot Carlyle is a corpsman in the Space Navy, and he’s one of the best. All corpsmen are enhanced, but Doc Carlyle makes the best use of his hard- and software; his intuitive reading of situations, humans, and aliens makes him that thousandth man who can make all the difference. We see his abilities in action when he is sent along on a hostage rescue mission; after that, he is sent to Abyss Deep, a water planet where a human scientific colony has vanished, and a potential first contact could go disastrously wrong if no one can figure out a way to communicate.

Carlyle’s empathy for xenoi – alien life forms embedded in complex cultures of their own, which at first glance have nothing in common with our own (but a longer look may reveal more in common) – is the Company’s best hope for not ending up MIA, presumed dead along with the colonists. But planetary explorations and first contacts are fraught with many perils, and accidental deaths are still lethal….

Star Corpsman is the sequel to Bloodstar, and if that’s not enough for you, he has written thirteen other books, most of them organized into trilogies. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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