We conclude season one of Wings of Earth with the Stranger Bedfellows finale (book five). If that sounds more like a television premise, then you are not far off. Eric Michael Craig constructed this series within an episodic framework. He treats each book as a contained event while using character arcs to push the core plot forward.
Granted, this is what a sequential series is supposed to do, but the manner by which Craig executes it gives Wings of Earth a distinct Star Trek vibe. Admittedly, every time I start a new book, I hear a 50s-era radio announcer saying, “When we last saw our intrepid heroes …” It creates a giddy anticipation, as if sinking into the couch with a bowl of popcorn. Should the series ever be adapted, the screenwriters won’t have much to do.
The space pirates return for Stranger Bedfellows, which give Ethan Walker and the crew a fresh round of ulcers. We learned a lot of interesting new details about said crew during Beyond the Edge (book four), which makes the reader think, “How is this going to play out?” Given the title, one can surmise that Ethan has entered a wary alliance. Coupled with the latest revelations, the reader is primed for interpersonal conflict. However, the initial ponders are much more specific: who is going to break first, and which is going to be the most devastating?
Being the end of a five-book season, I will avoid spoilers like the plague. But I can say that the ultimate reveal at the end of Stranger Bedfellows makes the entire series worth the investment. It’s a jaw-dropping moment that beautifully sets the stage for season two. In fact, I could not help but (affectionately) curse the author when I finished the book, as continuing to the next season was no longer a choice.
Wings of Earth is easy to recommend for several reasons. First, the books are perfectly paced, easy to read, and offer a comfortable introduction to hard science fiction. They are not bogged down by technobabble and pay appropriate homage to the science. And second, they are just darn good fun. The characters are infinitely relatable, and thus, infinitely likeable (Quintan and Ammo being my personal favorites). You root for them, you chide them, and it’s all in service of a great story that never disappoints. Onward to season two!
Learn more at EricMichaelCraig.com
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