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Corsair    by James L. Cambias order for
by James L. Cambias
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I enjoyed James Cambias' unusual and impressive debut novel, A Darkling Sea, and I liked Corsair even more!

This one is not set on an alien planet, but rather in our own solar system in the early 2020s. Two young computer geniuses, Elizabeth Santiago and David Schwartz, meet at MIT, though only Elizabeth is officially registered there. David is the Hans Solo type ruffian, out for himself, while Elizabeth is the straight arrow ... though that changes quite a bit as the story develops, as does their relationship.

Fast forward a decade and the two are on opposite sides. Captain Black the Space Pirate is known far and wide, though David has kept his true identity very secret. The 'absolute gold-anodized titanium pinnacle of the techno-badass pyramid', he applies his hacking skills to loot treasure ships in space from luxury hotel rooms on Earth. Elizabeth, a Captain in the US Orbital Command, is determined to take him down.

Their first encounter does not go well for her, as she's blamed for the destruction of very new and very expensive equipment. Elizabeth resigns, joins startup Icarus Propulsion Systems who are developing an innovative spaceship, and falls hard for astronaut Jack Bonnet. Meanwhile, readers meet Anne Rogers, who buys a seagoing boat and sets sail around the world.

The true villains of the piece intend to gain power on Earth through space piracy - and hire Captain Black for their first strike. Elizabeth plans to use her new company's 'cool spaceship' to destroy him. Of course, all goes awry for both of them, which is when the fun really begins. David has second thoughts about his way of life while Elizabeth flings herself far off the straight and narrow to protect someone she loves.

Just as in the first book, this one has thoroughly engaging characters; credible and comprehensible science; action in spades; romance; and humor throughout. I especially appreciated Elizabeth's drive and obsession. Great reading!

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