Zero Gravity Outcasts by Kay Keppler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Five years ago, Minka Shokat was falsely accused of treason and kicked out of Central Command, so she's not their biggest fan. But she still needs their money, so she and her partners, Anjali and Tex, occasionally transport Central Command cargo in their modified junkheap of a Wayfarer Class spaceship. When Minka discovers that this time their cargo is accompanied by the gorgeous ex-boyfriend who didn't support or defend her, she is furious. When she finds out their "cargo" is the very general who brought the charges against her in the first place, she is livid. However angry she is, though, she first has to survive the journey, and that is no easy task when hostile ships are attacking from all directions.
While reading this novel (novella?), all I could think about was Firefly. The characters were different, of course, and the universe wasn't as fleshed out, but there were many similarities: futuristic setting of humans colonizing other planets, centralized galactic governmental agency bad guys, struggling independent spaceship crew, innovative defenses based on designs by the brilliant crew members, etc. Minka's little pine tree for some reason always made the phrase "Earth that was" run through my head.
It was an entertaining and quick read. Not very deep or complex, just fun. I think it would have benefited from being a little longer--more time to develop the story instead of rushing through the exposition via the gossipy Tex, and no need to skip entirely over the delivery of the rest of their cargo or gloss over the battles to get to the happy ending.
For readers' advisors: story doorway primary, setting secondary. No sex, but there is some swearing.
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