Sci-Fi Review: Off Rock by Kieran Shea

A quirky sci-fi heist tale, Off Rock by Kieran Shea manages to cram a lot of action and drama into its efficient packaging. Kind of like a spaceship, in fact, or a deep space mining shaft. It has a bit of a Red Dwarf feel to it, crossed with The Stainless Steel Rat, with a touch of Office Space . . . in space.

Jimmy Vik isn't a bad guy, but he lacks ambition, isn't good with relationships, and has a tenuous grasp on morality. When he stumbles across a vein of gold while planting charges for a demolition, he suddenly sees a way out of his dead-end job. It's dangerous, but the payoff is worth it. The only problem is he's going to need help - and not the kind that can be easily trusted.

The quirky factor here comes in the form of the characters, including your stock smuggler with a gambling problem, a deliberately stereotypical third-world grunt with a candy fetish, and a blonde bombshell assassin. Beneath all that quirkiness is a sharp-edged corporate satire that rides the coattails of Jimmy's relationship with Leela, his ex-girlfriend and now-supervisor.

Like any great heist caper, of course, where Off Rock gets good is when everything goes bad. To say that nobody can be trusted and that everything goes spectacularly wrong is an understatement. It's a slow-burning tale for the most part, but the final third races along to an explosive conclusion. I burned through it in an afternoon, and the twists at end were brilliant.

Paperback, 309 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Titan Books (UK)

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.


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