Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Berry. Book Review

Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Berry
Angry Robot, p/b, 496pp, £8.99
Reviewed by martin willoughby

This is a book about a Unicorn in space. Half-unicorn to be precise. And he’s not having a good time. In fact, it’s hard to think of him having a worse time than he’s having right now.

Just released from prison after serving ten years for eating someone, Gary the half Unicorn goes to a nearby town to get his Stoneship back.

Stoneships are the marvel of the known universe, able to travel faster than light if they have a unicorn horn in them, or even shavings of one. Also, as unicorn blood has magical properties of healing, letting people know you are half-unicorn is a suicide note.

The biggest problem is that one of the humans running this part of the galaxy know Gary’s about to be released and is waiting for him.

He turns up at a bar looking for the person who has his stoneship and all hell lets loose. Fights, gun fights, magic, three tests, military intervention. And that’s just for starters.

He meets up with the husband of the woman he ate, the woman who now owns his stoneship, a bar owner who has more crooked fingers in more crooked pies than anyone knows and a military man eager to get his hands on Gary, his stoneship and anyone else he can use, abuse and generally step on to get his way.

That’s when this story really gets going. And it’s brilliant.

This is a an SF/Fantasy mix. The magical creatures are called Bala and are an eclectic mix of dwarves, elves, unicorns and anything else you can conceive of, while the humans are as dastardly as you can imagine. At least, the ones in charge are.

The Reason, the current human government, is as twisted and warped as any dictatorship in human history and sees the Bala as little more than objects and animals to be used at their pleasure and for whatever they decide.

The biggest problem for them is that they wiped out all the Unicorns, so faster than light travel is no longer possible. Which is what makes Gary’s position so difficult, and those few who know about him want to get hold of him, some unicorn horn and his stoneship.

The characterisation is excellent and there are a lot of animosities that need to be smoothed out before the crew settle down. The author handles this very well and no one is left in doubt who’s done what to whom and why. Their back stories are filled in and the storyline comes to a satisfying and story-ending conclusion.

In between all this, the history of Human/Bala intercourse and the current state of the galaxy is explored, as is Gary’s past and the deaths of his parents.

There’s enough going on to suggest Berry will write more of these and I can’t wait for them.

Oh, yes, did I mention the sisters? No?

Shame on me.