A guest review by Jenre
An engaging sci-fi which suffers from a lack of originality in the setting.
While eking out an existence on the edge of the Settled Worlds, looting ships left behind by raiders, Jeff Hawkins comes upon the Dante, just another broken hulk of a spaceship. But this time, amidst fuel cells and ration bars, Jeff finds a survivor in stasis. After meeting Dr. Peter Vale, Jeff will see that there’s more to life than mere survival—especially when it turns out Peter may be worth more to Jeff than a king’s ransom.
I picked up this short because I like sci-fi, and whilst the setting was a little too close to Firefly to be very original, it was still an enjoyable story with likeable characters.
Jeff is the pilot and captain of a small space freighter who, along with his two man crew, eke out a living by transporting goods, or by scavenging materials from ships which have been attacked by ‘Raiders’ and left floating in space. As the story begins, Jeff is in dire need of supplies and so boards an abandoned ship where he discovers a survivor, Peter. Peter soon makes himself home on the ‘Dante’, but Jeff doesn’t want to get too close as he knows that Peter will be leaving at the next habitable planet.
Those of you who like the series Firefly are going to find a lot of similarities in this story. Substitute the word ‘Raiders’ for ‘Reevers’ and their attributes are the same, and the character of Ayla, Jeff’s second in command, is exactly the same as Zoe in Firefly right down to her personality, clothes and the colour of her skin. How much you like this story is therefore dependant on how bothered you are about these similarities. I happen to be a big fan of Firefly and whilst I was sorry at the lack of originality in this story, I enjoyed the familiarity of the setting.
The best part of the story, for me, was in the characters of Jeff and Peter, who are pleasant and likeable men. The sexual tension between them fairly sizzled but there’s was also a friendship and camaderie between them that worked. They complemented each other as a couple which made me believe their feelings and affection by the end of the book. The writing was also good with a nice flowing style that grabbed my attention. The emotions of the characters and the descriptions of the space ship were vivid and provided me with enough information that I could easily picture what was happening in the story. I finished the book quickly and was satisfied with the way the story ended.
If you’re willing to overlook the lack of originality in the setting, and like sci-fi books, then Scavenger Hunt would be an ideal short story to fill a lunch hour or lazy afternoon. I liked it enough that I will look out for further stories from this new-to-me author.