JABINÂ AND THE SPACE PIRATES by Bev Allen, Taylor Street, p/b, Â£8.99, kindle, 77p, link
Reviewed by David Brzeski
I am reliably informed that this book was originally titled simply ‘Jabin’. The publisher apparently didn’t think this would hook readers (I can see his point) and added the ‘and the Space Pirates’. Sadly, this gives the impression that the book is a childrens’ adventure yarn, of the sort found in 1950s boys’ annuals.
While such stories are indeed one of many influences on the book, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s juvenilia.
The title character, Jabin, is an unhappy orphan boy of around 13, who has been moved from foster home to foster home and is living with a strict religious family on the colony world of New Wales, until he’s abducted by the space pirates of the title. It reads rather like Dickens in Space.
Then the book shifts focus to the military officers charged with the task of putting a stop to pirate raids in the area, while hampered by politics and a tense stand-off between the two main religious factions.
It’s very well written, with engaging and believable characters, not to mention truly vile villains. Bev Allen obviously knows an awful lot about the workings of the military, not to mention religious dogma and politics.
If I have any criticism it’s that the book could probably have worked just as well without the SF elements.
I’ve read recently that there is still a bias amongst the male majority of science fiction readers in that they don’t tend to read books written by women. I would encourage them to give Bev Allen a chance, as there’s nothing at all girly about this book.
That this is a first novel is quite remarkable, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
At the time of writing, neither Bev Allen, or her book is actually featured on the Taylor Street webpage. Hopefully this strange state of affairs will be fixed by the time this review goes live. In any case, an amazon search will easily find both the paperback and the (extremely cheap) kindle edition.