Theft of Fire – Devon Eriksen

I’m pretty much disinclined to write book reviews when asked, not because there are so many rubbish books out there but because my reaction so often will be along the lines of, ‘It was okay’ thus damning a book by faint praise. As I’ve noted before, I don’t read as much now as thirty or more years ago when I was averaging ten books a month (mostly science fiction and fantasy). I think this is due to me spending a large portion of my time writing and editing – my editing head is perpetually on and when I pick up a book I’m often thinking well, I wouldn’t have done that and you didn’t tell me about this cup of coffee he’s holding, where did it come from? This sort of reaction has sadly killed for me a number of old SFF books in my collection.

However, returning to Crete I read a book while on the plane to pass the time, then got into another when I arrived because, well, no Netflix or Prime and internet that can be intermittent. I was approaching the end of the second book when I got a message from Christine Eriksen to put Theft of Fire by Devon Eriksen on my radar. The timing was perfect as I finished that second book, looked at the star rating on Amazon of Theft of fire, and thought why the hell not? And I’m glad I did.

This book is as others have noted set in an Expanse like universe or, rather, the human race is confined to the solar system by more or less conventional physics while Larry Niven’s Belters are in the mix. Come on guys, you didn’t think The Expanse was breaking new ground did you? It was building on the shoulders of giants as most fiction does.

Being confined by more-or-less conventional physics enhanced rather than distracted here, but it helps that Devon obviously knows his stuff. There was no saying a magic spell with quantum in it to get from A to B (yes, I’m guilty) and the realities of space travel were starkly and realistically depicted. What also got to me was the engineering here – I found myself nodding my head and smiling upon finding out about a lathe and milling machine aboard, along with a bit of TIG welding. This ‘realities of space travel’ also extended to a space battle, capture and boarding (no tractor beams involved) and, well, I’ll just leave that there.

The plot begins with a ship owner who an heiress blackmails to go on a mission she won’t tell him about. The amusing note here is that she is a descendent of him – the guy who built rockets and settled Mars. SpaceX is in there, along with other corporations. Suffice to say, because I don’t want to give too much away, something big has been discovered and the race is on to lock it down. Things are going to get gnarly.

I could of course go on selecting out bits and pieces like the above to give you an idea of why I enjoyed this, and that goes nowhere really. Other books contain similar elements. Other books can be similarly imaginative or more so. And I’ve tossed them aside after a few pages or a few chapters. What makes this stand out is simply that it is a thumping good read, with excellent breathless pace. It ‘suspended by disbelief and was engaging. The characters involved are believable (to the extent that I wanted to slap one of them at the beginning) and you care about what happens to them. They develop and change together, coming to understand each other, and this interaction is what I think is the key here. No, I did not want to stop and check my emails or see what someone had said on X or facebook. I wanted to lie on my sofa and keep on reading, which hasn’t happened for a year or more, and I polished this off in two evenings.

Thoroughly recommended.

Three sample chapters are available to read here.
And it can be found on Amazon here.

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