Cary Caffrey’s The Machines of Bellatrix, published 2013, continues the very enjoyable space opera that started with The Girls From Alcyone. Like the first book, this is an addictive adventure full of space battles, combat between mechanically enhanced humans, space elevators, corporation-controlled wormholes, and so on. The political messages are not so blatant this time, and generally the writing is tighter and less indulgent.
In this volume, Sigrid and her sisters are on a mission to track down the people who are after them, and this takes them to the industrial world of Bellatrix, which presents a nightmare vision of a world where overpopulation and unethical corporate control have combined to create a not-unlikely dystopia. And their enemies once again are seeking to create superior and less autonomous versions of the cybernetically enhanced girls from Alcyone.
Once again I do have some minor complaints. The main bad guy seems to stay effortlessly several steps ahead of everyone else, and trails plot holes in his wake. The section at the beginning is, I believe, what was published earlier (July 2013) as Merchantman (which I haven’t read), and if so could have used a little restructuring – the flash-forward at the start works for the extract but seems odd in the novel. Chapter Nine is titled The Last Flight of the Ōmi Maru, which screams a whole story that never actually gets told.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable read and The Girls From Alcyone is becoming one of my favourite Sci-Fi series.