Jim C. Hines, Terminal Alliance (DAW 978-0-7564-1274-6, $26.00, 358pp, hc) November 2017. Cover by Daniel Dos Santos.
In a definite departure from his previous humorous fantasy novels, Hines’s new novel is military SF. OK, it’s humorous military SF, with zombie janitors. In space. But they’re not your usual sort of zombies, mostly. This first book in the Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series is set in a universe where a zombie plague reduced humanity to feral, practically unkillable animals. They were discovered in this state by the alien Krakau, who managed to at least partially fix individual humans, and created a place for the ones they recover in the Earth Mercenary Corps. Lieutenant Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos commands the Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team on the EMCS Pufferfish. (The Krakau name the ships after Earth’s most deadly creatures.) When humans returning from a mission start going feral, the bio-suited janitors are soon the only sentient beings left on the ship, leaving Mops in charge. Fortunately, she’s a bit of a strategic genius who’s spent most of her aware adult life reading the ship’s library and observing battles. So what if no one on her team actually knows how to fly a spaceship? They should be able to figure it out, if only they can do it before the massive conspiracy they’ve stumbled on gets them killed. Action keeps the plot moving nicely, while plumbing and zombie jokes, lots of team banter, and alien misinterpretations of Earth culture provide considerable humor, for a lively start to what promises to be a highly entertaining series.
Carolyn F. Cushman, Senior Editor, has worked for Locus since 1985, the longest of any of the current staff, and handles our in-house books database, writes our New and Notable section, and does the monthly Books Received column. She is a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in English. She published a fantasy novel, Witch and Wombat, in 1994.
This review and more like it in the November 2017 issue of Locus.