Book Review: Derelict: Marines Saga by Paul Cooley

I think I came across and bought Derelict: Marines from a BookBub newsletter. The story sounded interesting, so I bought it. And it was so good, I bought the second book, Derelict: Tomb. Now I’m stuck and left hanging until the 3rd book comes out later this year.

This series is military science fiction. The premise of the series is that a ship sent on a mission about 50 years go that lost contact suddenly shows up near Pluto mysteriously. This has sort of an “Event Horizon” vibe. A group of search and rescue Marines stationed near Neptune is dispatched to check it out. Their orders are to board the ship, recover any logs they can, and tow it back.

But the AIs they’re dealing with start giving them conflicting information. Their ship’s AI starts acting strange. While they were ordered to tow the ship back, the AIs suggest destroying it.

Then they find some strange objects on the ship that look like pinecones, as well as some liquid that kills a Marine who steps in it. While mounting thrusters to stabilize the ship’s spin, a fireteam’s skiff is disabled, forcing them to take refuge inside the ship. Low on air and with an injured Marine in serious need of medical care, they are forced to find a way to survive and defend against the strange objects, which turn out to be some form of extra-solar life, which certainly isn’t looking to share their wisdom and technology with residents of the Sol system.

These are fast paced, action packed books that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And damn it, I have to wait until at least October before the 3rd book comes out.

While it’s really hard to capture life in space without taking some artistic license (the author uses “grav plating” for artificial gravity), the military aspects are fairly realistic. I assumed when I started reading the books that the author had been a Marine, but nothing in his bio indicates military service. Still, he did a decent job.

One hint as to how well an author renders Marines is how their rank is described. While it’s perfectly acceptable to call ANY NCO in the Army or Chair Force a “sergeant”, that doesn’t fly in the Marines. Their mentality is that you earned it, and you deserve to be addressed by it. There is only one sergeant in the Marines, which is E-5. Once you make E-6, you are a Staff Sergeant, and can expect to be addressed by it. Gunnery Sergeants (E-7s) are often addressed as “Gunny”, which is acceptable. But NOBODY calls a Gunny a sergeant. That doesn’t fly.

I’m not even sure if it’s acceptable to call a Private First Class a Private.