SPSFC 3 Quarterfinalist: Cydonia Rising by Dave Walsh

After three months of reading and two months of revealing our quarterfinalists, Team ScienceFiction.news is ready to close the book on the first stage of the third Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. Our sixth and final quarterfinalist is Cydonia Rising by Dave Walsh.

Science fiction is a broad genre and this contest of self-published authors takes entries across every subgenre. But like the Muppet Sam the Eagle, who titled his most bombastic patriotic number "A Salute to All Countries (But Mostly America)," the SPSFC at times can feel like a salute to all subgenres but mostly space opera.

There's a lot of great space opera in the rankings of the first two SPSFCs, including the first winner Iron Truth by S. A. Tholin. This time around our judges thought Walsh's novel was a worthy example of science fiction at operatic scale we were eager to continue reading.

The first in a sprawling cast of characters we meet are Jace, a widowed space trucker scraping out a living on the fringes, and Kat, a woman he plucks from space who has the bad manners to immediately hold him at gunpoint.

"Okay," he gulped, trying to find a way to either reach for his gun or somehow talk her down. "You were floating with what my ship read to be about one day's left of life support out here in deep space. I was just trying to be a nice guy."

"I've met my share of nice guys." She grabbed a hold of his arm and pushed him face-first against the life pod. Her rough gloved hands were patting him down and his pistol slid from the holster. "This the only weapon you had on you?"

"Yeah," he groaned, his face burning up against the cold life pod. "Can you let me go now?"

Space is enormous but the two discover that they share a common enemy -- her brother Cronus Freeman, the emperor who ascended to the throne of the Andlios Republic over the corpse of their father. He had Jace's wife killed for protesting the repeal of a law protecting the freedom of information.

Our judge Richard offered his five-star recommendation on Goodreads:

Space opera fans, this is a book for you! We have empires, royalty, palace intrigue, multiple planets, worm holes, anti-heroes, strong female characters, space travel, cybernetic implants, and a little romance.

I really enjoyed this book. While space opera is not my "go to" science fiction, the complex action, evolving characters, and complex plot lines made this a very engaging read.

Cover of Dave Walsh's science fiction novel Cydonia Rising

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