I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.
Sam ‘Bow-on’ Bitka is back in ‘Ship of Destiny’
By MARK LARDAS
Mar 28, 2020
“Ship of Destiny,” by Frank Chadwick, Baen Books, 2020, 485 pages, $16
Sam “Bow-on” Bitka is back in Frank Chadwick’s latest science fiction novel about the Stellar Commonwealth, in which Earth is the newest and junior member.
“Ship of Destiny” is a sequel to Chadwick’s early “Chain of Command.” It saw Earth humans defeat an attack by one nation of the Varoki, another of the sixth sentient stellar races that make up the Cottohazz, or Stellar Alliance.
The defeat was largely due to the efforts of U.S. Space Navy Commander Sam Bitka. Bitka, a reserve officer, called up to active service reluctantly, rose through sheer ability to command of a destroyer. His determination gained him the nickname “Bow-on Bitka.”
Bitka’s refusal to protect incompetent career naval officers got him crosswise with his senior command. For this, although instrumental in the victory around the planet K’tok, Bitka’s “reward” was transfer to command of an armed transport.
Shortly after Bitka takes command, an alien probe appears from Jump Space near Bitka’s command, Cam Ranh Bay, and both disappear. Bitka and his crew are off on an involuntary voyage 3,000 light years from known space and deep into the heart of an ancient and previously unknown civilization.
Bitka’s discoveries about this new civilization are momentous. They impact the Varoki, the senior member of the Stellar Alliance, who claim to have invented the star drive all member nations use. More importantly, Bitka discovers the new aliens offer an existential threat to the entire Alliance.
“Ship of Destiny” splits into two tracks. One follows Bitka and his crew on their voyage across space and back again. The second follows the reaction by Outworld Coalition members around the planet K’tok, as they investigate Cam Ranh Bay’s disappearance. The two eventually converge when Cam Ranh Bay returns.
While those who have read “Chain of Command” will be familiar with the background, “Ship of Destiny” is an excellent stand-alone tale. As with Chadwick’s previous novels in this series, “Ship of Destiny” is tautly written. Chadwick provides a complex story with a fast-paced and exciting delivery, one that keeps readers turning the page to discover the next surprise.
Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.