“The Chronicles of Henry Harper” by Jacen Aster

This book is not quite a novel, but it’s close enough to be treated as one. It is a series of short stories closely knit together by the main character and many of the supporting cast. It is a standard Space Opera: slightly melodramatic, often humorous, not overly realistic. For example, alien species are mammalian enough to suggest interspecies cooperation of an intimate nature. Pure Star Trek. However there is serious enough empathy with the characters and a realistic enough plot line to create a serious thematic vein as well. People we really like actually die.

The main character, Henry Harper, is a mechanical genius who works at the cutting edge of earth’s expansion into space at a time when the ability to engineer by the seat of his pants allows him to save the day in a series of incidents throughout his adventurous life. For most of these tales he is an older fellow, allowing him to play the avuncular mentor to a series of young and desirable space cowgirls, rounding out the expected female balance in the story.

One standout point in the writing that will impress the more scientific-minded reader is that the author gives us, simply and in one paragraph, a perfectly logical explanation of how Einstein’s Theory of Relativity can be adapted to faster-than-light travel. Not bad.

Regular Sci-Fi readers will find this book a light, fun read with a tenuous connection to reality, either in futuristic science or realistic characterization.  Space Opera fans will find this book exactly what they want in all departments. I enjoyed it as much on the second read-through as I did on the first.

Recommended for all Science Fiction readers, and especially Space Opera fans. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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