A Review of: Velocity Weapon (The Protectorate Book 1), by Megan E. O’Keefe

First off – I loved this book. An innovative, interesting space opera, which includes future cultures, space faring peoples, AI intelligences, space wars, aliens, and mysteries to solve. Non-stop action.

My favourite part of the book, is the ship personality AI, Bero. Bero is a well thought out character, with depth and growth. In future times, many ‘things’ have been imbued with their own artificial intelligent consciousnesses, to run and operate them. Space ships, space stations, etc. Anything that could benefit from being capable of operating its own mechanical functions. In my mind – this is not a stretch of imagination on where we as a society are headed. Seems logical. The consciousnesses can think faster, know everything without forgetting, and solve problems quickly and in ways the human brain may never aspire to. Superior evolution. Sometimes they just control functions. And in other stories – they are truly ‘beings’ with autonomous minds, consciousness, and self awareness.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

** Spoilers ahead **

In Velocity Weapon, one group of peoples, the people of Ada Prime, use AI, but only at a functionary level. They do not give them the freedom to become full beings, so to speak. While the protagonist group in this story, the Icarion, allow their ships to have ‘personality’ modules. And effectively, become more fully actualized ‘beings’. To think, to grow, to learn.

The personality and being of Bero, is a young ship. He (he has chosen the pronoun) has the mental maturity of a young person, still given to fits of tantrum, and in a space where he pushes boundaries, learns, and grows as a being. He also develops opinions, fears, attachments, and learns to deceive, and trick to try and get what he desires.

This makes for a very interesting character. And also a bit of a situation, in that the ship does not always do what he is told, or what you want him to. He must be reasoned with, and also assured about events, and actions.

Which is fair, being his creators, the Icarion people, have created him as the most cutting edge weapon, with technologies far beyond the ships of Ada Prime. (*One thing about the story that is lacking – is we don’t really get any background on the Icarion people. Where they are from – presumably Earth. But how they are independent of Ada Prime, why they more advanced weaponry and ships, etc. This would be lovely to know and so much more depth to the story.) The problem is, Bero does not want to be a weapon. He does not like the devastation he had been forced to cause. He has developed feelings about not wanting to act this way.

The base of the story, revolves around a war. The people of Icarion rise up against Ada Prime, because they don’t like the way Ada Prime is running the cosmos.

To back up the plot here, the origin of the story starts on Earth, where one scientist discovers a fragment of data from an Alien civilization, in a comet, or some such space debris. It holds the schematics to build a Thing. The earthling who discovered this; builds the Thing; while not knowing what it is going to be, until it is completed. It is an inter-galactic space travel device – a ring that opens a worm hole (or similar) to a different distinct location in another solar system. The people of Earth, become Ada Prime, being the now current – builders of the rings, advancing out to many other Solar Systems, with the Rings. They do not let you go anywhere, but are a strict A to B trip. And the Ada Prime controls all traffic through them.

The Icarion people are in a Solar system Ada Prime dominates, and do not like the way Ada Prime Controls the ring. Which, ok, fair enough. However, Ada Prime did build it, and open access to this Solar system. So, it is theirs, to do with as they please.

So now, Icarion has been threatening war action against Ada Prime. They want changes. Hence… the war at the center of this story.

Now, as for the technology and data that exists to build the rings – it is severely guarded information for the peoples of Ada Prime. They are not sharing. So much so, the schematics are split up into sets of multiple people, put in a computer chip, and implanted into the skulls of those people who’s job it is to protect the data. The keepers. They must protect the knowledge, at all costs.

Of our main characters: Biran (whom I will now call Brian, because we hate stupid names) who is a newly appointed Keeper. And his sister, Sanda (who we will now call Sandra because come on!) who is a captain on a warship, for the Ada Prime army.

Icarion makes good on its threats and lobs some bombs at Ada Prime planets and stations. War ensues. Many ships of Ada Prime are lost. Including Sandra’s.

Sandra jettisons her damaged ship in an escape pod. (Part of the Ada Prime space ship technologies is the escape pod, which auto ejects, and encases it’s occupant in a protective foam/gel that puts them into a chryo-genic sleep until the pod can be retrieved.)

But twists! The head Keepers tell the people of Ada Prime, that all the occupants of the army ships all are dead. But Brian discovers there are signals from the escape pods coming in. He will stop at nothing to go and find his sister, if she is out there. But twists! The signals are a trap! More war manoeuvres! And intrigue – why would the Keepers lie about the signals?

Sandra wakes from a chryo sleep / healing pod, aboard an Icarion war ship. She is alone. And missing a leg. She is told by Bero, that the Solar system has been obliterated by the Icarion weapons, and she is the sole survivor. Bero has searched the wreckage for pods. And, it’s 200+ years in the future. Bero wants to set course for the nearest neighbouring Solar system, which will take 80+ years of travel, since there is no longer a ring to jump through. But he needs her help to accomplish this mission. And, it is her only hope at survival, and joining a human civilization again. But it is of course, not that straight forward.

But more twists! Bero is lying, to protect himself, and Sandra, whom he has become very protective of.

Sandra eventually discovers the deception, after many weeks of struggling to accept this reality. And eventually finds her way back to her family and Ada Prime. Who are now trying to shut her up because she knows too much…

There is so, so, so much more to this story. So many more minor plot arcs, and threads. It’s a big, long, detailed, complex story, and I loved it all. Can’t wait to read the second and third installments, to see where it goes next.

The story is superbly written, the plot arcs are intriguing, and complex, with plenty of detail to bring them to life. (Without feeling like info dumps.) The characters all have satisfying arcs of growth, and direction. The story ties itself up satisfactorily at the end, but there is just enough thread to go to the next installment of the series – without the feeling of being left hanging (which we hate.) Truly a delightful read.

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