My friends, I have a confession to make: I can certainly read and enjoy the different flavors of fantasy that seem to dominate the genre market at the moment. However, I'm also a gal who was basically raised on a steady diet of Heinlein, Niven, Babylon 5 and Star Trek, so I still admittedly have a bias for good old-fashioned space opera. Consequently, when I opened James Young's Ride of the Late Rain and realized it was a first contact story, I got excited. When I further realized it was the prologue for a longer series, I got even more excited. This sort of thing is in my wheelhouse! Space navies and alien civilizations? Gimme!
Granted, "first contact gone wrong" is a well-worn trope for the genre, but I do like Young's writing style -- particularly when it comes to the dialogue, which feels organic and is often funny to boot. I also love the ethical orientation of his principal military characters. To quote: "A captain's first duty is to the human race." Dear God, yes please. If I could pick out one line that qualifies this short story for the Human Wave label, that would be it. And watching said military characters endanger their lives on behalf of a civilian transport? Thank you, Mr. Young; that is what being in the military is all about.
I do partially agree with the reviewers who complain about this story's length. I too would've liked a little more time to get emotionally invested in the characters. But did Ride of the Late Rain spark a desire to read whatever else Young has to offer? Absolutely! Like I said, this is the kind of story I crave.
Final Verdict: Recommended.