Trinity – Dave Bara

Trinity

Summary

Long after he was defeated in a revolution, spaceship commander Clement is a quiet drunk when he's approached to captain an experimental ship on a mysterious mission. But what he finds there is much more than he bargained for.

Review

The book starts well – washed up captain getting by and drinking when an old name calls him back for one last mission. It’s not innovative, but that’s alright; tried and true works too, sometimes. For the first quarter of the book or so, Bara stays within the lines, and offers a decent military SF adventure, albeit with remarkably lax discipline on ship. it feels like a sequel, but it’s a refreshingly short book for these days.

There are some rough moments, and I had a little trouble believing that the hero, Clement, attracted both loyalty and romance as depicted, but I was willing to let that go by. The science, for what reads as hard-ish military SF, was thin, and I had a number of ‘What?!’ moments. One key piece of technology – one reason the revolution failed – is seemingly abandoned, almost never to be seen again, even on a fully kitted out experimental ship (it does get one or two passing mentions, but no more, even though it would solve key plot problems).

For me, though, the book lost an increasingly tenuous grip on credibility when the ship reaches its goal, and Clement proceeds to take really outrageous actions with no thought for consequences or realism. To my mind, the plot got worse from there. His action has predictable consequences, but everyone seems quite surprised. Later, it turns out there’s a key plot twist, but, examined, it makes no real sense at all. The bad guy, transparently labeled ‘Bad, don’t trust’, almost down to a tag around his neck, has no twist at all – he’s bad. Meanwhile, the people Clement has pissed off with his irresponsible (or, according to the book, reasonable) action are quickly determined to be “conquerors. Slavers. Genocidal. Fanatics. They don’t fight for a reason or a creed or a purpose, they only fight because they are ordered to.” based on virtually no evidence.

Clement has a passing, convenient interest in protecting the innocent; but only occasionally, when he remembers, and when he needs to seem like he has a grand moral purpose. Later, though, he proposes – I kid you not – herding them into reservations. Because that has always protected people in the past, right? I won’t even mention the lesbian who sleeps with a man while under the influence … and then keeps doing it, because why not? By the way, it’s the kind of book where a man would a) never have sex with another man against his own preferences, and b) would certainly not keep doing it. By the way, no one is able to resist that initial sexual influence, except, of course, Clement, who believes in duty. It’s a minor scene, honestly, but hard to believe it has been written this century.

When I picked up this book, I made a mistake. I thought I had read a prior book of the author’s, and thought it was okay, though not great. About a third of the way through this, when struck by an egregiously incredible action, I went to check my review of the prior book, Starbound. I had indeed read a prior Bara book. I hadn’t like it at all. I liked this one less.

Much of this book felt rushed and underdeveloped, almost like a synopsis intended to sell a full story. I thought after a while that maybe this had just been a passion project that the author felt he had to get off his chest. But there’s a sequel. I honestly don’t whom I could recommend it to. It’s just too slapdash and inconsistent to work. I guess if you like macho military SF and aren’t too bothered with consequences or credibility, go to it. It does read quickly and has some neat plot elements, if only the rest of the plot made sense.

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