Indie Advent Day 19: Ardulum: First Don by J.S. Fields
This book is about to be re-released under the new Space Wizard Science Fantasy label, but you can still get it (although with a different cover) HERE
This one hit that space-opera loving side of me! Neek is a cool character, the only one of her species to be currently exiled from her planet, so EVERYBODY in the universe knows that she screwed up, much to her chagrin. Her crime: questioning the quasi-scientific religion followed by everyone on Neek (the name of her planet, and and also of every adult being on the planet so no one gets uppity and thinks they’re better than anyone else). Neek, a pilot in her very blood, was stripped of her flight commission and rank for daring to voice an unpopular opinion. She now works on a battered old transport piloted by a human captain and their teenaged Terran Explorer Scout, who’s getting more of an education than he bargained for. I loved the relationships between these three and how they evolved. When they receive a dubious “gift” of a stasis pod from some aliens in thanks for intervening in a space battle, Neek’s lack of belief is dealt a huge blow, because who is inside sure as hell looks like one of the gods her planet worships. There’s a lot of tense galactic politics with beach-ball shaped aliens, but the best part of this is the science in the science fiction! Fields holds a doctorate in the study of wood and fungus, and it’s the science that shines here. The cellulose based starships. The sentient fungi ambassadors. It’s just a load of really fricking awesome and fun to read.