“Hyperkill: A Pirates of Khonoë Space Opera” by Robert Muller

At first glance, “Hyperkill” has all the elements of a Space Opera and more: agents, assassins, intergalactic intrigue, cutting-edge fictional science and pirates. The main character, Pavan, is pretty much what we expect: a good guy with the usual flaws, most of them revolving around beautiful women. He is also at a transition time in his life; he is finally growing out of his juvenile recklessness and settling down, a difficult task in the occupation he has chosen. This creates a good personal conflict to mesh with all the external troubles he has to deal with.

The other characters are perhaps a bit too stereotyped for even this genre., especially the pirates. Except for Delatrix, the main antagonist, they are rather undistinguishable, one from the other. The children whose mental gestalt provides the main focus of the plot are the exception, and provide a bright, varied contrast to the rest of the cast.

The children’s gestalt is also a problem. A good Space Opera has one simple, understandable bit of science for the characters to develop, with definable limits and specific dangers. Once these precepts are set out, the author can create conflict and suspense because readers can guess what might happen next based on how the characters are interacting with the technology.

In this tale there is no clear definition of the limits and dangers of the children’s ability, and we have only a vague concept of how the power really works, so readers can’t imagine what might occur in any given situation and find it hard to follow and harder to become emotionally involved in what is happening.

This makes the plot complicated and unfocused. The characters spend too much time banging their heads against the same problem and not making any progress, while the author jumps around to other parts of the story and the galaxy to deal with other plot threads.

As a result, the book is far too long (almost 500 pages) for a good Space Opera, and the extra material slows down the action.

Recommended for Space Opera fans with patience. There is a good 300-page story in there, if you’re willing to dig for it.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery.

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