This month’s Spotlight Week features Sci Fi novels CassaStar and CassaFire by author and ninja blogger Alex Cavanaugh.
CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh
To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…
Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockipit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.
Much to Byron’s chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron’s tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.
As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?
Alex Cavanaugh accomplishes a rare feat in his first novel, CassaStar. He has created a character-driven Sci-Fi story that isn’t weighed down by scientific jargon or technological lingo.
The story is set primarily in space and there is no mention of Earth or what galaxy the Cassans live in. The Cassan race appears to be similar to the human race except for the fact that they have mental powers that allow them to communicate through thoughts and even teleport from one place to another.
Alex doesn’t waste time explaining the use of telepathy and mind power to pilot ships. Instead, he incorporates these cool concepts into the plot itself. Trusting his readers to understand these concepts, along with other world building aspects, Alex focuses on the development of his two main characters, Byron and Bassa.
Byron, the rookie pilot and Bassa, the experienced commander, are very likeable characters. Their own individual journeys and the path that leads them to each other is at the very heart of the story. Byron has trouble trusting people and Bassa’s regrets constantly haunt him. In the end, Bassa gets his second chance through Byron, and Byron in turn learns to open up his heart through Bassa.
The plot in itself is fast-paced and the battle scenes between the Cassan fleet and the enemy Vindicarn ships are thrilling. Although Alex doesn’t describe the actual fighter ships in detail, it’s easy to picture the powerful Cosbolts and speedy Dartens going up against the invading armada.
The one thing I miss in CassaStar was the presence of female characters. I didn’t miss having a love story, but I did long to see a mention of female pilots at least.
Lack of female characters aside, however, I truly enjoyed reading CassaStar. It’s a fast-paced, thrilling Sci- Fi adventure, but it’s also a heartwarming story about friendship, trust, honor and self-sacrifice.
The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend – to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.
The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.
To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…
In this sequel to CassaStar, Alex Cavanaugh proves once again that he is a master of character development.
The story is set primarily in the newly discovered planet of Tgren, and there aren’t as many space battle scenes as there were in CassaStar. However, this doesn’t in any way make the story less exciting. Alex still manages to thrill his readers through some fast-paced action scenes and key plot points.
CassaFire follows veteran war hero Byron in his new life. Byron has kept his promise to mentor and friend Bassa and has become a pilot on an exploration team. Years ago, Bassa took Byron under his tutelage and became his only friend. Now Byron finds himself befriending an insecure, yet brilliant computer analyst named Mevine. Using the things he’s learned from Bassa, Byron coaxes the young officer out of his shell and becomes both friend and mentor.
In this book, I found what I’d been missing in the first installment of the story: a strong, female character. Athee is independent, free-spirited and just as excellent a pilot as Byron was when he was younger. She’s also a jumper like Byron, capable of teleporting from one place to another, without the use of a power source. But unlike Byron, she possesses other mental abilities that makes her a valuable asset to both her native land of Tgren, and to the Cassan fleet. I actually loved how she was far more powerful than Byron in terms of mental powers.
I enjoyed witnessing her growth as a character, and seeing her relationship with Byron blossom into something more than friendship. Giving Byron a love connection made the story even more of an emotional aspect than the previous book.
I also liked the fact that the sequel explains the lack of women in the Cassan Navy, and the difference between Cassan men’s and women’s mental abilities.
Alex Cavanaugh continues his wonderful story-telling in CassaFire. It is an exciting and enjoyable read, containing equal measures of action-adventure and drama. It’s definitely a must read for any Sci-Fi fan.
Links to purchase CassaFire:
Tune in this Wednesday for the 2nd installment in this Spotlight series, where I feature an interview with author Alex Cavanaugh!
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