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Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon

Cold Welcome (original 2017; edition 2017)

by Elizabeth Moon (Author)

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178699,316 (3.64)22
Title:Cold Welcome
Authors:Elizabeth Moon (Author)
Info:Del Rey (2017), Edition: Reprint, 496 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction, military science fiction

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Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon (2017)



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After backtracking through the five novels of Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series, I was finally able to get back to Cold Welcome, the first volume in the author’s new cycle called Vatta’s Peace, one that I started reading some time ago before realizing that I was missing too much back-story for my comfort.
Granted, one could start with Cold Welcome without undue problems – and I know many have done so – since the author leaves some well-placed signposts that help the readers orient themselves, but getting to this point after learning to know Kylara Vatta and the way she grew, as a person and as a commander, through the previous series, is a different kind of experience, a more rounded, deep-reaching one.

The book starts a few years after the events in Victory Conditions: following the decisive success against Turek’s pirates, Admiral Kylara Vatta has expanded and consolidated her Space Defense fleet, shaping it into a solid and respected organization. Returning for the first time to her home planet at the request of her formidable Aunt Grance, Slotter Key’s Rector of Defense, Ky boards a connecting shuttle with her former Academy commander, the man who expelled her after a diplomatic incident, and from the very start something looks suspicious: the shuttle must perform unplanned course corrections due to a strong weather front, and some unexpected technical problems force the pilots to effect an emergency landing. From that point on, all hell breaks loose and Ky finds herself and the survivors of the crash marooned in a harsh, desolated land marked as “terraforming failure” by the planetary charts. It becomes immediately clear that the crash was the result of an act of sabotage (or rather several acts, since the perpetrators wanted to be certain of reaching their goal), so that Ky and her surviving comrades are not only fighting against tough environmental conditions – first on life rafts and then on an Arctic-like tundra – but against intentional damage on their survival gear. Not to mention the traitor (or traitors) hidden in the group…

This is where, I believe, knowledge of the events that shaped Ky Vatta into the person we see in this novel is essential, because otherwise she might come across as know-it-all kind of Mary Sue instead of the individual who managed to overcome a long chain of difficulties and personal losses, becoming a capable, level-headed leader. Knowing what Ky went through in the past, first with her unjust (and very possibly contrived) expulsion from the Academy, and then as a merchanter-turned-soldier as she fought Gammis Turek’s pirates, helps in contextualizing her actions and the hard decisions she must take for the survival of the group. Again, Moon does a good job in providing the new readers with all the necessary clues without cluttering the narrative with long exposition, but there is a great difference between being told about certain occurrences and reading them as they happen in Ky’s life, changing her outlook, shaping her personality and building some much-needed experience.

And that experience is what she and her group need, badly, in what looks like a desperate situation, worsened by some instances that appear more and more suspicious as the clues build up: the area where the shuttle crash-lands is one where surveillance satellites and communications don’t seem to work; some of the emergency supplies for the life rafts are either incomplete or damaged; and the behavior of some of the survivors doesn’t always add up. Never has Ky been so alone in her previous undertakings: before she always had a loyal crew to support her, and friends or family within reach, while now she must shape a group of strangers into a cohesive unit working together to survive, and the only known entity she can count on is her aide, a very uptight woman more focused on proper behavior and military decorum than on what really matters in such a situation. Not the best start, indeed…

The extreme conditions with which the group must deal offer a great chance for character exploration, so that the departure from the usual space opera or military SF themes one might expect leaves room for a very different kind of story, one where we can watch how people react to punishing environmental conditions and the very concrete possibility of death before any rescue can be effected. In this Moon truly excels, because she sketches the various personalities through the hardships they go through, and also manages to gift us with some surprising developments: there are a few scenes where the undercurrents of personality clashes come to the fore, and I enjoyed both the verbal skirmishes those entailed and Ky’s reactions, that were always quite collected despite the personal strain she was enduring at the moment.

If the narrative thread of the survivors is a fascinating one – especially when they make a quite unexpected discovery on a supposedly barren and uninhabited landmass – there is an equally intriguing storyline where Ky’s family and friends and the local authorities are concerned: even in the face of the grim odds presented about the survival of the shuttle passengers, Grace, Stella and the rest of the family are not ready to give up the search, so that when Rafe is able to confirm that Ky is indeed alive, thanks to their ansible connection, the Vattas resume their attempts to reach the survivors, finding several obstacles on their path. Clearly, the recent purge has not rooted out all the rotten apples from Slotter Key’s management structure, so that Grace, Rafe & Co. need to move with quiet stealth to avoid being thwarted in their efforts. There is a mounting sense of dread running through both narrative paths, which makes for a compelling read and a very engrossing story.

All of the above would be enough for a very satisfying read, but it’s not all one can find in Cold Welcome, because of the discovery Ky and the other survivors make in the not-so-deserted wasteland where they crashed: it’s a puzzle that will need to be unraveled (and probably the focus of the next books) and that promises to be as fraught with danger as the previous pirate chase has been. Something I’m happily looking forward to.

Originally posted at SPACE AND SORCERY BLOG ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Dec 25, 2018 |
Good transition from space wars episodes. The Vattas have more troubles at home than in space and the admiral gets caught up in those machinations on her first return home since her inglorious departures years ago.
A Robinson Crusoe themed adventure results from a failed, by shuttle sabotage, assassination attempt. Ancient artifacts help the strandees survive and defend against the expected return of whoever is currently controlling their refuge. ( )
  jamespurcell | Jun 30, 2018 |
What a disappointment! Elizabeth Moon's five volume Vatta's War was one of the most interesting science fiction action series I have read in quite a long time. The last book concluded the series at a perfect place. Kylara Vatta had just pulled together a group of fiercely independent and largely impotent planetary space forces into a cohesive fighting unit and crushed a renegade pirate force.

In "Cold Welcome" Ky, now Admiral of the confederation space-force, has returned home to conduct family business and to be honored as the planetary and confederation savior. A malfunction while en route from her flagship to the planet forces an emergency landing in the frigid ocean off the coast of a barren, arctic continent. All of the officers aboard the shuttle died except Ky and her Executive Officer. The shuttle had been sabotaged and the officers' survival suits had been rigged to inject a lethal poison.

Readers of the earlier novels in this series will recognize Ky, Rafe, Aunt Grace, MacRoberts, and Stella among others. All make brief appearances for the most part but the extraordinary skill and cunning they displayed in the previous volumes are absent. All seem impotent to mount the relatively routine rescue.

"Cold Welcome" varies between boring and senseless. The story is only marginally interesting and the plot has a number of holes. For example, once Rafe learns the location of Ky the Vattas do not initiate a rescue attempt. Aunt Grace, the Rector of Defense, tells Rafe that it's not that simple but Moon never explains why it's not that simple. Why didn't they contact Ky's flagship and ask for help rescuing her? Why is the Rector of Defense so powerless? Someone ordered supplies and transport for a small army of 100-200 troops. Why can't the Rector and the former CEO of interplanetary communications figure out who placed the order? Why can't the Rector countermand the order?

After plodding through a rather uninteresting book I at least hoped for a convincing climax. Ky had discovered and took shelter in a large underground facility on the deserted continent. As the arrival of a mercenary force hired to kill the surviving spacemen approaches Ky discovers an underground highway. Then they spent innumerable days driving at slow speed while nothing happens. When the tunnel, purpose unexplained, ends abruptly, Ky discovers a foot passage that eventually ends on a mountain ledge. None of that makes sense.

Finally, instead of celebrating a miraculous survival, the story takes a 180 degree turn and renders these supposedly competent protagonists as impotent pawns of unforeseen forces. Ugh!

I was delighted to see another entry featuring Ky and the Vatta family "Cold Welcome" is little more than a "cash grab," much like the endless sequences we see in the movie business. Moon apparently did not have a compelling idea for an addition to the series but that did not stop her. ( )
2 vote Tatoosh | Aug 24, 2017 |
I enjoyed this book , especially the further I got into it. The beginning I found a little slow. But I couldn't put it down by the end. I had fogotten a lot about the earlier KY Vatta books but I didn't really need to remember much to like this one. The setting is not in space but it is military. A lot of previous characters like Aunt Grace, Stella, and MacRobert turn up. Even Master Sergeant Pitt. ( )
  phyllis2779 | Jul 14, 2017 |
Good story. It was great to see Ky again, and the rest of the Vatta clan (well, Grace and Stella, at least. And Rafe). Matters have advanced slightly from the end of the first series - Ky is still in command of the SDF, Rafe is still running his father's company, and they're both starting to pull at the reins. Ky has to go back to Slotter Key for a family (financial, I think - it's never really explained) matter - and when she gets there, she gets caught up in a nasty situation. There's a lot of politics (mostly from Grace's viewpoint - she's Rector (Defense Minister) of Slotter Key, and has to be careful of her actions and words). Ky is dealing with more direct threats - her shuttle ditches in a near-frozen sea, and the only land they can find is equally unfriendly. Until they look a little closer - then she's dealing with both direct and less-direct threats. I did _not_ guess the traitor - never even occurred to me (it's pretty obvious there's a traitor, almost from the start, but who...). And the incidental discoveries are...very very interesting. It does end a trifle abruptly - not a cliffhanger, the current matter has been resolved (pretty much), but things change for both Ky and Rafe quite sharply and then the story ends. It's a clear setup for the next book in the series, and all I can say is - yay, gimme! ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Jun 29, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Moonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bryan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frost, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pressley, BrittanyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, David G.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"After nearly a decade away, Nebula Award-winning author Elizabeth Moon makes a triumphant return to science fiction with a thrilling new series featuring the daring hero of her acclaimed Vatta's War sequence. Summoned to the home planet of her family's business empire, space-fleet commander Kylara Vatta is told to expect a hero's welcome. But instead, she is thrown into danger unlike any other she has faced and finds herself isolated, unable to communicate with the outside world, commanding a motley group of unfamiliar troops, and struggling day by day to survive in a deadly environment with sabotaged gear. Only her undeniable talent for command can give her ragtag band a fighting chance. Yet even as Ky leads her team from one crisis to another, her family and friends refuse to give up hope, endeavoring to mount a rescue from halfway around the planet--a task that is complicated as Ky and her supporters find secrets others will kill to protect: a conspiracy infecting both government and military that threatens not only her own group's survival but her entire home planet. Praise for Elizabeth Moon Trading in Danger "A mix of space opera, military science fiction and human drama, this is an exciting and often touching novel."--RT Book Reviews Marque and Reprisal "Excellent plotting and characters support the utterly realistic action sequences: swift, jolting, confusing, and merciless. It's a corker!"--Kirkus Reviews Engaging the Enemy "Moon has created a richly imagined universe of different cultures, replete with intriguing characters and the sense of unlimited possibility that characterizes the most appealing science fiction."--School Library Journal Command Decision "One of scifi's best military space series. confirms Moon's place with Lois McMaster Bujold and David Weber in the top tier of turn-of-the-millennium military SF writers."--Syfy Victory Conditions "Rip-roaring action and intriguing science and tactics distinguish Nebula-winner Moon's fifth and final Vatta's War installment. A fine and fitting conclusion to Moon's grand space opera tour de force."--Publishers Weekly"-- "Kylara Vatta is summoned back to the world of Slotter Key, the home planet of the Vatta empire. Ky had never meant to return ... but sometimes family summons cannot be ignored. Yet nothing about this trip will go as planned. When her shuttle is sabotaged, she ends up crashed in artic waters along with a desperate handful of strangers. It falls to Ky, as ranking officer, to help them survive and find land, but when they arrive on a frozen island that, until now, has always been known as a terraforming failure, what she discovers there is shocking. And now she must not only solve the mystery of who sabotaged her ship, but what it has to do with the secrets a shadowy government faction seems more than willing to kill to keep hidden"--… (more)

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