You never know what you’re getting into when you read self-published sci-fi. Sometimes the books are gems. Sometimes they are more like shiny, fresh turds. However, I love supporting writers willing to put themselves out there, so I proudly shelled out 2.99 to pick up Mikel Evans’ The Wolf Itself. (If you have kindeunlimited you can read it for free via that service as well, but shell out some cash for CBR and Evans!) TWI is the first book in a series, but it stands by itself so don’t worry about getting an incomplete story.
Like a lot of sci-fi, a lot of the fun in the story is the world-building. I appreciate that Evans doesn’t sit down and spell out every detail of how the culture and science works, but we get enough sketches and off-hand comments that we know a bit – humans and other sentient species (non-organic included) travel through space for fun and profit. Certain families seem to have a lot of sway in how commerce and societies are governed. For a century or so, a shadowy, sentient force has been causing problems along some shipping lines. That’s where we meet the Kestrel and its crew.
The Kestrel is a “torch” ship, meaning it looks kind of like a torch (or a squid, I think). It’s build for speed in order to cover distances in a reasonable amount of time. In this world, you can just warp around whenever you want. This particular ship is used for shipping. When I say used, that might be a bit derogatory, since at least some crew members consider the ship to be sentient, if not alive. It is crewed by two brothers from a formerly wealthy family, a robot that used to be in the military, a dog-like creature, and a grumpy guy (every office has one). While on a normal job, the crew encounters an abandoned ship that looks to be about a century old. (I like details like these – we know space travel has been common and commercialized for at least a century, but it’s never explicitly said that “In 2246…”) The crew plans to salvage the ship, thereby legally obtaining everything in it, as well as the ship itself. However, something seems off when they arrive…
The Wolf Itself is a quick, fun read. I probably will download the other two book in the series, unless I can get a hold of the author to sign physical copies for me.