Book Review: Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’Keefe

Back Cover Blurb

Sanda and Biran Greeve were siblings destined for greatness. A high-flying sergeant, Sanda has the skills to take down any enemy combatant. Biran is a savvy politician who aims to use his new political position to prevent conflict from escalating to total destruction.

However, on a routine manoeuvre, Sanda loses consciousness when her gunship is blown out of the sky. Instead of finding herself in friendly hands, she awakens 230 years later on a deserted enemy warship controlled by an AI who calls himself Bero. The war is lost. The star system is dead. Ada Prime and its rival Icarion have wiped each other from the universe.

Now, separated by time and space, Sanda and Biran must fight to put things right.

What I Thought

First of all, let me start by saying I thoroughly enjoyed Velocity Weapon from beginning to end. And, like any good roller coaster ride, this one starts off with a few gentle reveals, and slowly—at first—builds up to a number of startling revelations, as you crest a peek, wondering what the hell is coming next and then? Suddenly you are being plunged head first over a dramatic cliffhanger, rolling at breakneck speed towards the next clever twist in the plot. So that, just when you think you have an inkling of what might be going on, O’Keefe pops your bubble and blindsides you. Nothing, as they say, is ever what it seems. As it should be with any good story.

Introducing our characters, the story opens with Gunnery Sergeant Sanda Greeve waking up in a medical bay after a battle, and discovering not only is she on an enemy ship, but she’s naked and … oh, look, only has one leg!

Before we know it, she makes another starling discovery. The ship she’s on is tech far in advance of that of her own people—the Primes—but more, it has a sentient AI. The Light of Berossus or, Bero, as he introduces himself to Sanda, has scooped up her emergency pod thereby saving her for a slow sure death. But wait, there’s another twisted surprise in store for our beleaguered Sergeant. Bero tells her it is now 230 years in the future after the battle of Dralee.

I mean, come on, what a great opening.

Intersecting Sanda and Bero’s story, we have Biran, Sanda’s brother, a newly anointed ‘Keeper’ who’s about to get into a lot of trouble, never mind, political intrigue, even before he’s read his acceptance speech. And oh boy, does O’Keefe drop us, and poor Biran, straight into the deep end from the get go. The poor guy has to navigates shark infested political waters but seems to find a mentor in Keeper Lev. But is his saviour really an alley, or just using him for his own ends?

Well, we all know the answer to that, no one is ever as they seem. And, awash in trying to make sense of just what’s going on, Biran—and us along for the ride—has to act fast and on his feet. Believing he is acting for the best interested of Ada, finds out just who is friends really are. And while we watch him inadvertently chumming the deep water he’s frantically treading, we get to meet the major players in Biran’s circle and sphere. The Keepers of Prime. Living a life of what is for most, a life of luxury, on a space station circling the dwarf planet Ada. A planet picked for its location, specifically for the Prime Corp. to build another of its all-important Gates. A Casmir Gate that affords the Gate-Keeping Primes access to near instant travel across the galaxy.

Young, inexperienced, and way out of his depth, nonetheless, Biran, goes all out to find out what’s really going on, and what not only happened to his sister at the merciless battle of Dralee, but why their nearest neighbour in the system, the Icarions, are so hell bent on destroying Ada, the Keepers, and, it would seem, the Gate itself.

There is a subtle and not so subtle interplay of politics—via Biran’s threads—and what’s happening on Ada. And then, there’s the reality of life in space, as seen in Sanda’s thread, thinking she is the last living person in the system, mourning the loss of everyone she ever loved and held dear.

Then there is the even more harsh reality of life on the fringes of society, as seen via Jules Vicenza, part of a nickel and dime crew dodging the law, and other criminal gangs, while heisting anything left lying around, unguarded. Jules, and her cohorts, live in the Grotta—a backend festering carbuncle on the arse of the gleaming city-dome, that is Alexandria-Atrux. But the proverbial shit hits the fan for Jules and the team when the heist what they think is an unguarded cache of the drug, Wraith. And discover much more than they bargained for when Jules steals some data pads, and more, a vial of pearly liquid. Thereby setting off a string of events that will cost them all dearly. 

I won’t go into details but will tell you, the author will keep you on your toes, so pay attention, there’s a lot going on here. So much so, it’s all but impossible to distill it all down into a few short paragraphs. What we have is solid world building, a crew of well fleshed out characters, and a plot with plenty of twists and turns as to give you neck ache. But, be warned, not everything ends as you might think, as O’Keefe sets us up for what is surely to come in subsequent instalments of this enjoyable series.

Oh, I do so love, a complicated, twisty plot. And O’Keefe certainly delivers.

(The Protectorate #1
Megan E. O’Keefe
Orbit Books
Science Fiction