Anyone who has read works by Eric Michael Craig knows that he doesn’t do restraint. His stories are sweeping sagas that span multiple interlocking series, each of which contains a large bank of titles. He’s quickly becoming a hard sci-fi version of Terry Pratchett, in that his own epic version of Discworld is populated by spaceships and ancient aliens.
So when I learned about Scatter the Winds, a stand-alone story inside his Wings of Earth series, my curiosity was more than a little piqued. Could this be possible? Craig writing a contained narrative is a bit like Bob Ross painting crime scenes. Perhaps there was an ulterior motive at work here. In any case, I was determined to find out.
Scatter the Winds follows Kylla Torrance as she leads a group of refugees aboard a large transport shuttle. The story opens right inside the action as the ship is attacked by pirates. After a narrow escape, she and the crew are thrust into a game of cat and mouse out in the blackness of space. Kylla must figure out how to defend the precious payload while working to evade enemy radar. An enemy, mind you, that carries its own nefarious secrets.
We learn that Kylla is an Augment, or a genetically enhanced superhuman. She is smuggling a large faction of her kind away from enslavement by the Shan Takhu Institute. (Fans of Craig’s other works just smiled and went “Aaaaah.”) That’s the first connection, which eventually links to a second by way of a few familiar characters from Wings of Earth. And to avoid spoilers, I will let you uncover them for yourself.
That said, you do not need to have read the other books to appreciate this one. It really is a self-contained action tale that can be enjoyed without any backstory. Craig fills in the bits and pieces that you need to know, all without bogging down the pace. If anything, the bits that you do uncover will make you more eager to read the other series. Shan Takhu Legacy takes place beforehand and Wings of Earth takes place after, with Scatter the Winds serving as the glue that binds them together.
As with Craig’s other works, Scatter the Winds is a sharp, speedy, and scientifically sound novel (yes, even with the FTL drives). As a rare stand-alone, it offers a solid window into the author’s writing style. Pick it up as a tester or read it as a binder. Either way, it’s highly recommended.
Learn more at EricMichaelCraig.com