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Wildcatter by Dave Duncan


by Dave Duncan

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Throughout history, there have always been people willing to risk large amounts of money looking for something lucrative in places where no one else is looking. Wildcatters are best known in the oil drilling industry. In the future, there is a different kind of wildcatter.

Mankind is starting to explore the galaxy, but not for the usual reasons. When unmanned probes report the discovery of a suitable planet, the race is on. There are corporations that specialize in visiting alien planets and looking for chemicals that can be turned into pharmaceuticals back on Earth. The risks are huge, and the profits uncertain. But, if a corporation finds something that becomes the future equivalent of a drug like Viagra or Lipitor, the payoff can be immense.

The spaceship "Golden Hind," part of the Mighty Mite Corporation, is racing to the planet Cacafuego. Having to spend more than a year in hyperspace, in the equivalent of a 2-bedroom apartment, makes relations among the crew very important. That is why the crew consists of 2 men, 2 women and 2 hermaphrodites. When they reach their destination, Galactic, the dominant corporation in the field, has put a beacon in orbit. But, it's a "beware of this planet" beacon, instead of a "stay away, this planet is ours" beacon. The crew of the Golden Hind decides to stick around, so Seth, the prospector of the crew, comes up with a very risky plan to land on Cacafuego.

That is not as easy as it sounds, because the planet is barely tolerable for humans. The temperatures are worse than tropical, the gravity is noticeably higher than on Earth and powerful hurricanes go over the potential landing site every couple of hours. The planet is also inhabited. While on the planet, Seth finds that Galactic has broken nearly every rule in the planetary exploration "book". Does Seth find anything potentially profitable? Does he even get off the planet alive?

This is a solid, well-done piece of writing. Duncan is a veteran writer who shows, once again, that he knows what he is doing. The reader will not go wrong with this short novel. ( )
  plappen | Aug 7, 2013 |
I enjoyed aspects of the book and felt it to be both very creative and odd world the author created.

One of the major issues I had with the book was that while there was a lot of interesting and unique aspects to this world, there wasn't a lot of details or explanation to what everything is, how it's tied together. Things are mentioned, but only slightly touched on and then the author moves on to the next part of the book. Nothing, including the characters, were properly fleshed out. As a reader, we never got beneath the surface of anything in the book. I would have loved to gone deeper into this "universe" as the stuff I did read about and there was potential for a lot of interesting pieces to the story there.

I did enjoy the overall story, it's odd in many ways - like with a new race called Herms. Although it did add some interesting pieces to the book, their creation and description was very odd. Character interactions was also done fairly well, although again, it was very odd. I think that's the best way to explain the book as odd, a good odd, but it was odd. It wasn't like other Sci-Fi books I've read in the past, but it was refreshing. There were some interesting twists in the story to, and for such a short book, the author did manage to execute those fairly well, although I still wish more time was spent on explaining everything properly and not rushed through.

Overall, it was an a good read and well worth the chance I took when I grabbed it of the shelf.

Also on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - Wildcatter ( )
  bookwormjules | Jul 28, 2013 |
Wildcatter is good hard SF of the space adventure variety. Dave Duncan, whose fantasy I have enjoyed, is excellent in this genre, handling the details well and with his usual deft writing and light touch. Edge Books does their authors a disservice in not having the works copy edited, though. There were a good number of errors that could have been culled by the sleepiest copy editor. Enjoyed the tale nevertheless and am glad I got to go to that planet, with those folk. ( )
  thesmellofbooks | Oct 5, 2012 |
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The independent starship, Golden Hind, travels through space to find undiscovered treasure on exoplanets before larger corporations can lay claim.

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