Read an eARC from the author
Content warning: Planetcide, murder, blackmail, physical assault
Under Fortunate Stars is a heisty space opera in which two crews, one from the past and one from the future, find themselves trapped in a rift. With fuel and resources running out and the slow crawl of history catching up with them, this story has excellent pacing and galaxy-sized world-building with snark and mistrust found around every corner.
An interview of the author will be hosted here on the UK release date of May 12th, 2022.
I’m going to start by saying that I love garbage man Jereth. He goes by many names, and I want to applaud Hutchings for writing a rogue who I am compelled to follow to the very end but also gently swat in the face. His moral compass points towards survival which is very good considering the circumstances, but the range of personal outcomes is truly something to behold. He’s equal parts conniving but also hasn’t entirely lost his faith in humanity and that balance is incredible.
There’s also fantastic world-building and emotional stakes presented in “Leeg” Leesongronski, the professor of the group and one of the legendary Fortunate Five. He’s perhaps the most worldly of the crew and definitely the most emotionally mature. His backstory is upsetting across a variety of fronts, and it’s handled really well both from a “wow, this far off space land is just as messed up as Earth” and “man learns the consequences of his own actions” standpoint. This duality is present throughout with great affect. One of my favorite tropes is when people from the present meet their heroes, and wow, I think this story does not believe in meeting your heroes unless you need to save each other from calamity.
From a story structure standpoint, Hutchings also does a great job with foreshadowing and where the next set of reveals are going to intersect. There’s a layering to the twisty presentation of both past and present that made the pacing dynamic and chapters flow from scene to scene. Even though the story is told from four perspectives, it doesn’t feel overwhelming and the headings make it exceedingly easy to follow which section of time we’re in. The breaks during pivotal moments are also strategically placed to provide context to whatever next high-stakes thing happens, particularly during the sequence when a third ship enters the rift.
Overall, I had fun reading this. If you want a space heist with stakes that go beyond survival and might shatter galactic peace if the characters don’t put on their work slacks and deal with it.