“Major Grubane is commander of the Aurikaa, the most feared cruiser in the UFS arsenal. His crew is handpicked and fiercely loyal. Together, they have never failed a mission, and their reputation precedes them. But this time he’s been sent to a key planet that is caught up in political tensions at the centre of the freedom debate. What he thought was a simple diplomatic mission turns out to be the hardest choice of his career. His orders: eliminate one million inhabitants of the planet, and ensure their compliance. Grubane has also rediscovered an ancient game called chess, and plays it against the ship AI as a form of mental training. But maybe it could be more than that as he finds himself asking questions. Can orders be reinterpreted? How many moves ahead is it possible for one man to plan? And how many players are involved in this game?”
Thank you to Rachel Random Resources and the author for my e-copy of this book and my spot on this blog tour.
Review of Grubane by Karl Drinkwater
My rating: 4/5
Major Grubane is a well-known and in many ways feared commander of the Aurikaa, the cruiser of the UFS. But this novella is narrated by AI, who strangely feels more than a machine, and it makes the story so much more interesting. It is through AI’s eyes we witness the choices Grubane must make to both prevent what effectively could have been a mass murder (even if called by higher-ranking officers neutralisation) as well as protecting his people, both crew and family alike.
What I liked the most about Grubane was definitely the first-person narration from AI perspective. It was so interesting to see the event unfolding through the eyes of Aurikaa12, who while not human almost wants to be one but still, at moments, look at people and their behaviour differently than a person would. But Aurikaa12 makes you question many aspects of our usual gestures, thoughts and emotions.
The games of chess between Grubane and Aurikaa12 that allow major to train his minds and prepare strategies that he later can use in the warfare are equally the beginning of this strange friendship – between a human and an AI. But you grow to care in a strange way about Aurikaa12, which makes the ending more heartbreaking.
Grubane is a nice little sci-fi novella. While I haven’t read Lost Solace series so far, I didn’t feel like I couldn’t get invested in the world and potential conflicts, with Grubane and AI drawing the action and the atmosphere in the interesting direction at all times. Grubane can be read as a standalone, but it made me interested in the series, and all the political tension that’s happening in the world created by Karl Drinkwater.
Who is the book for: I would recommend this novella for sci-fi fans, and those who woud like to read something – the narration from the perspective of an AI makes Grubane quite interesting. You can get your copy here.
For those interested in knowing more about the author:
Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.
He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.
When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.