Outlaws (Rebel Star Book 1) by Edward W. Robertson
Humanity is space-faring, but only within our own solar system. Everything, human or machine, sent to beyond vanishes without a trace. Jain has been investigating this mystery and is on to something but before she can divulge her discovery she is murdered.
Rada and Simm, operatives for a rival corporation are determined to find why and by whom, with the help of some space pirates, a sort of think tank called Lords of the True Realm and Jain's son who faked his own death.
Outlaw is basically a murder mystery set in space, and our protagonists traverse the solar system in pursuit of whodunit and what Jain discovered. The quotidian details of life aboard spacecraft, on stations or off-earth bodies is well drawn and enjoyable. The writing is good, the imagining of a reality where gender is irrelevant is impressively accomplished, but the characters are stock and the ending is a bit abrupt.
I find the idea of humanity becoming space-faring exciting and inspiring, so Outlaw checked enough boxes for me that I enjoyed it and will probably check out the next book in the series.
Headhunters From Outer Space by Bret A McCormick
Humor, nostalgia, metaphysical philosophy, oddball characters ... Headhunters From Outer Space is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Zed and Fred, the titular headhunters, are talent scouts of a sort, that show up in Alvarado, Texas to recruit talent from the the performers and artists that gather at the club of Big Daddy Bostwick, 60's counter-culture icon. Also there to do a piece on the legend are a cynical reporter, uptight editor and photographer from a major news publication. The headhunters' recruitment methods are unique and what follows is a reality-expanding romp with the alien visitors.
It starts out a little slowly and there a few typos that proofreaders missed, but once Fred and Zed show up on the scene, it's all groovy man!
Recommended for those who appreciate the quirkier corners of speculative fiction that Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut and Jody Scott inhabit.
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