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The Salvage Crew [a review]

A misfit band of under-qualified space rednecks embark on a routine salvage mission to recover a lost ship that had set off to colonize Urmahon Beta but had failed. The story is told by a sarcastic formerly human AI ship mind voiced by Nathan Fillion in the audiobook version. Things begin to go wrong almost from the start as the planet turns out to be far different than expected.

With some serious Firefly notes and Fillion behind the microphone, I was assuming this would be a really fun space romp. And for the first half of the book, it really is! Fillion makes for a fascinating narrator, because his pacing and inflection just sound very different than your average audiobook narrator.

As the action begins to rise in the book, however, it gets harder and harder to follow what exactly is going on. The narrator’s point of view begins flipping around between different characters—human and otherwise—and the storyline begins to be extremely abstract. Who is talking, who has died, who is no longer dead, who is colonizing who... it is very hard to keep it all straight.

Though the book raises fascinating questions about colonialism and our triumphalism about our spacefaring aims, the unfortunate reality is that much of this worthwhile reflection gets buried beneath the avalanche of weird, abstract computer dialog and confusingly tangled plot lines. The first half of the book is really engaging and interesting, but it really starts to peter out after that. Would I recommend it? I might, if you're a big Firefly fan, because it's pretty fun to listen to Fillion. But otherwise, I probably would skip over it.

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of a fair, unbiased review.

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