Incursion, by Aleksandr Voinov
Publisher : Riptide Publishing (BUY HERE)
Genre : Sci-fi, Action
Length : 25,600 words
Fighting with your back to the wall is all well and good—as long as you’ve chosen the right wall.
When the local authorities ask Kyle Juenger to hunt a shape-shifting Glyrinny spy, he can’t refuse. After all, he can use the reward to replace his paralysed legs with cyberware, and maybe even to return to his home planet. Besides, he hates the morphs—those invasive, brain-eating monstrosities whose weapons cost him his legs.
Kyle’s best lead is the Scorpion, a mercenary ship armed to the teeth. Grimm, the Scorpion’s pilot and captain, fascinates Kyle. He’s everything Kyle lost with his legs, and he’s from the same home world. He’s also of the warrior caste—half priest, half saviour. But Grimm’s been twisted by life as a merc, and Kyle’s stuck undercover as a criminal on the run.
That doesn’t stop Grimm from coming on to Kyle, or from insisting he’s more than the sum of his past and his useless legs. But Kyle has other concerns—like tracking a dangerous morph who could be wearing anyone’s face. And as if things weren’t complicated enough, Kyle can’t tell if Grimm is part of the solution . . . or part of the problem.
I love Voinov. I love Riptide Publishing. And this is Sci-Fi month ….. so it seemed somewhat serendipitous that I should get my hands on an arc of Incursion. Good things definitely do come in threes! The story was good, very good! My only complaint would be that it was too short 🙂 …. yeah, yeah, I know it was a short story, but still. A girl can dream, right?
Kyle Juenger is Tamenean by birth, but left his home planet, to join the military – including a stint as a Hunter Five some 15 years earlier. Six weeks ago he was badly injured and forced to retire. He’s broke – financially and physically – his legs, and his sex drive, paralysed by a Glyrinny weapon. It’s his past as a Hunter Five that gets him this gig from the Sector Commissar; to find his target – a Glyrinny double agent named Kshar – and to bring him in, dead or alive. Or more to the point a data retrieval operation. The vessel containing the data, namely Kshar, is expendable. This mission, if successful, could be the answer to his prayers – the reinstatement of his old privileges, and with the better retirement package he could afford full cybernetic replacements. All Kyle knows is that the fugitive is headed for his home planet Glyrinny, and he is shown a photo of Kshar – for what it’s worth – so he heads off to the spaceport to look for clues.
Kshar, like all the Glyrinny, is a shape shifter therefore the photo Kyle was shown is quite pointless. Kshar could be anyone on board the Scorpion. He could be Winter – the tough captain of the ship; or Grimm – the pilot, a gorgeous fellow Tamenean; or is it Petros or Jay, or any of the other crew members or passengers. The task to find the double agent and collect the data is a difficult one – and Kyle has until they reach Ganesh to complete it. He will have to try everything to find the shifter, maybe even seduction 🙂
The world that Aleks has created is believable without being boggling; and I thought that the characters were charming. Some of my favourite reads this year have been by Voinov – Country Mouse, Dark Soul and I was late to the “party” with Special Forces; this offering by Voinov doesn’t disappoint – AND I read one of his books without crying!! Who knew that was in fact possible? I loved Grimm straight away. His flirtiness, and the utter certainty that he could make Kyle respond to him, despite the “slab of dead meat.” Seriously, who could say no to someone with that much swagger? I adore swagger! But he also just seems to be a nice guy. I loved the element of shades of grey within the book – no not THAT shade of grey …. but nothing is as it appears. One man’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter – and the most amazing technological breakthroughs can save lives or end lives – it all depends on the hand that wields the power. Nothing is as it seems.
All Kyle has ever wanted was to blend in – that was a big part of the reason he joined the military – to get lost in the whole. Even when he thinks about being able to get cybernetic legs his first thought is that he wouldn’t stand out anymore if only he could walk smoothly. I loved how the psyche of the shape shifter had Kyle thinking differently about his whole life – and the attitudes that had shaped him thus far; the anger, the drive and discipline, and then the anger and resentment – but while the shape shifters can take on any physical form, their inner being remains intact; as Voinov wrote – the exterior changes are like parlour tricks. But the ability and the freedom to completely own whoever existed underneath the skin – irrelevant of the outer packaging. That was power. That was freedom. That was brilliant. Go. Buy the book!
Rated 4.5 stars by Barb