‘The Pharmakoi are bad news. They’re really powerful’ – New characters, new space opera

New York City author Declan Finn is a prolific writer of stories published in anthologies and over thirty novels: his spectrum includes mysteries, thrillers urban fantasies and science fiction. His novels have earned significant awards. His new novel – WHITE OPS is a space opera and he steps to the forefront with this excellent entry into that genre. The note that this is Book One is promising that this will be a series.

Setting the time frame in the 2360s, Finn demonstrates his ability to created the scenery and props and players well – on Space Colony Invidia I, ‘The first step to an interstellar war that threatened to darken the stars themselves had begun in a grubby little bar, on a backwater planet that no-one had even bothered to terraform. No one knew exactly what it would lead to, especially not the two characters who wandered into the bar. They skipped the Zari at the front door who sold tickets – the alien had just let them pass. Peter Sierra always worried when a bar stopped patrons at the door to buy tickets to enter – he worried even more when everyone had to pay except him, usually meaning that he was the floorshow. However, on this occasion, Peter was worried because he was currently traveling with the most dangerous human in the known universe, Sean Patrick Ryan…Ryan and Peter were fiends from college, and occasional partners in crime. Technically, what they did bordered on illegality, but there was reason they called Ryan a mercenary. Peter wandered the stars, and they occasionally reconnected by accident. Today, that same place was the bar The Scoundrel’s Refuge. It was a seedy little bar in a seedier-still little domed colony.’ Welcome to Invidia and the curtain raises heartily!

Finn’s lengthy book reads quickly with prose that is peppered with wit and near visual action. The plot has been condensed as follows: ‘The Pharmakoi rampaged across dozens of star systems, taking on the toughest races in the Galaxy in their campaign of conquest. But they are only the beginning. Sean Patrick Ryan sees that another race is behind the Pharmakoi expansion; a race that wants to test our galaxy for weakness, and who needs to be eliminated from within. To fight the enemy in the shadows, Sean will put together a strike team to light up the darkness— with nukes if necessary. They will get the job done at any cost. They will be White Ops.’

While some writers of science fiction neglect humor, Declan Finn embraces it: ‘Of all the elements of the universe – hydrogen, oxygen, light – the most common of these is not found in asteroids, or stars, or even quantifiable by science. It is, sadly enough, stupidity.’ And that is but one of the many reasons his imaginative novels are so successful! Recommended.

Grady Harp Review