Okay, let’s see what I can say about Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines. Well, first, This launches the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse humorous science fiction series and is published by DAW.
It took me a long time to read this 385-page Advance Reader Copy. About a month. In September. I saw an ad for the hardcover appearance scheduled for November 7. I liked the cover art, and I knew nothing of the janitor-in-space trope, although after I started reading I learned elsewhere that it’s not unheard of. So, I requested the ARC.
My slow reading progress was not because the story was boring. I’ve always read slowly, partially because of my ability and more recently by choice. Usually, I ration out my number of pages per day, because I often read multiple books at the same time (a side effect of a slow and impatient reader) and I always want to finish them in a week. That almost never happens but it is a nice goal. There were days when I reached goal far too soon and just had to make myself stop reading.
Terminal Alliance, in a nutshell, dramatizes the war between two alien races, the Krakau and the Prodryans. The Krakau, a sort of technically advanced squid race, work with humans. In fact, they saved them. A century ago, something infected Earth and everyone turned feral, meaning the human race essentially turned into a bunch of abnormally aggressive zombies without all the pesky shuffling to slow them down. This spread nightmares across the rest of the universe regarding human eating habits. The Krakau found a way to “rebirth” the humans. This rebirth cured but also erased everything the individual was. He or she upon being reborn had to choose a name and was given a new vocation within a month. And so, the Krakau are not only doctors but also colleagues and mentors.
Mops is stationed on a starship named the Pufferfish, where she heads the sanitation/maintenance department. Caught in a conflict between the Prodryans and the Nursurans, the Pufferfish becomes infected with a feral virus except Mops and her team. Mops’ crew includes an ex-military man with an artificial arm that often misinterprets his commands, a trigger-happy woman named Wolf, a talented technician overly fond of autopsies, and a centipede-like alien who is neither a he nor a she but a they and is an avid gamer. When the proper crew falls, Mops and her janitors must not only learn to pilot the Pufferfish but also negotiate with terrorists. At least a “helpful” tutorial pops up whenever the system suspects someone needs a lesson. Although, I enjoyed the creative solutions Mops and her crew initiated based upon cleaning-up and fixing experience. (A-Ring drives are hard to work!)
The story is part space adventure, part whodunit. Humor woven throughout maintains at mostly subtle, but occasionally, I found myself laughing until tears streamed from my eyes.
This is the first book I’ve read by Jim C. Hines. Mostly he writes fantasy. I will definitely check out what else he has to say.
You can order Terminal Alliance here: