The Scoundrel Worlds by Chris Bunch

A Science Fiction Book Review

Star Risk, LTD., is out of work and needs money and by extension, a job.  They are sort of security/investigation agency.  So, when work comes along, they will take almost anything.

 There are two separate stories in this book.  First, Star Risk has to provide security for a skyball championship.  In earlier matches, officials were killed.  The Professional Referees Association hires Star Risk to keep the officials safe.  They do so in the overblown way that, if you have read any Star Risk books before, we have seen before.  The officials are safe, Star Risk keeps the game honest, as some of the officials are not, and the job is quickly accomplished.

 Then they take on the job of proving a convicted traitor innocent.  This job takes a little longer, and the book is really about this story .  They travel to the planet Dampier and have to unravel the politics in place to figure out who has framed Sufyerd, the convicted traitor. 

 The world of Dampier, is in a continuous disagreement with Torguth over the Belfort Worlds, a mineral rich system they both want.  There are the governments of both worlds, as well as the secret police of Dampier and an unknown group called the Masked Ones.  Star Risk must sort through them all to find who framed Sufyerd.  Cerberus Systems, a regular protagonist of Star Risk, is also on the planet, but Star Risk is not sure what part they are playing. 

 I enjoy reading these Chris Bunch - Star Risk novels, as they are quick paced and full of humor.  I usually consider them a quick read, something like the science fiction equivalent of the western novel.  There are good guys and bad guys, they are all fighting against each other, there is a big shootout and the good guys win in the end.

 There were a couple of things that I didn’t like.  The first was just a packaging item.  The back cover tease talked about the skyball championship job and had me interested in that storyline.  When I read the book, that story ended by page 30.  That was almost a throwaway story.  The rest of the 338 pages were about Torguth and Sufyerd.

 The second was about Cerberus Systems.  I think Chris Bunch put them in almost out of obligation.  Cerberus is the bigger more expensive version of Star Risk.  We know from earlier books that Jasmine King formed Star Risk when she had employment problems at Cerberus Systems.  So, in each book Cerberus is a foil that Star Risk plays against.

 In this book, as usual, Cerberus Systems appears.  We know they are on the planet, but neither Star Risk nor us know in what capacity.  They have one skirmish with Star Risk, and then they are gone.  There is never any reason given for them being there.

 So, like the western, everything comes out right in the end.  I think I can safely let you know that they free Sufyerd, and in the end, have the added bonus of postponing the war once more.

 So, if you have some time, and have a few hours, go ahead and pick up this book by Chris Bunch and read about the continuing adventures of Star Risk.