Book: Metal Boxes
Published: September 2013
Genre: Science Fiction
At 15-years-old, Midshipman Blackmon Perry Stone has graduated from the empire’s cadet training academy. It hasn’t been smooth sailing. While he has a knack for finding unusual ways of solving problems, this often puts him at odds with his superiors. Assigned to a military warehouse vessel, Mr. Midshipman Stone makes some unusual friends, but deadly enemies when he discovers military supplies being stolen. Stone and a friend are dumped into an escape pod and jettisoned into hyperspace. The pod only has sub-light engines. He is able to reconfigure the engines to escape hyperspace, which is supposed to be impossible. All he has to do now is perform the impossible again and get back to civilized space to confront his attackers.
Metal Boxes starts off a bit slow but quickly becomes hard to put down. Mr. Midshipman Stone is a young man who is hard to pigeon hole. He is smart, though he isn’t good at math, and he is good a solving problems, though usually not by the book and in ways that startle and irritate his superiors, especially when they want him to fail. What’s worse, he is a naval officer who often associates with marines. However, those who seem the most irritated are those who have something to hide.
Alan Black does a wonderful job with the technical aspects of hyperspace, but often falls into the trap of describing instead of showing. Many explanations are presented as exposition when dialogue might have been a better choice. However, Metal Boxes is still a page turner.