Followers of this blog will recall my review of Cryptozoica by Mark Ellis. That was one of my favorites this past year and a classic adventure in the truest sense. Under the name James Axler he also created and writes The Outlander series, which, incidentally, are loads of paperback fun. Now he has published The Spur: Loki’s Rock, the first in a series. I was hooked from page one. No, let me correct that – I was hooked from the blurb prior to page one! That’s right, this is a rollick’ science fiction adventure in the grand tradition of space opera and westerns. Sometimes writers (and painters and actors and musicians) find themselves in a creative groove where they hit their marks, strike the right chords and chew dialogue like candy. That’s when it all flows creatively. I think Mark Ellis is in the right groove. And I think he’s going to ride that groove for a very long time. The set-up: four hundred years after the Third World War many earth corporations began searching the galaxy for off-world resources. Explorers eventually found evidence of something that became known as Imperator Tyranny which they theorized that these humanoids had a vast influence on cultures including earth’s Sumeria. Meanwhile, one of the planets in the Orion Spur, Loki, became a settlement for colonists, many of whom don’t get along. A commonwealth judge assigns Quentin Crockett to document what has been happening on Loki, and that’s when things heat up. Dr. Quanah Parker, Officer Alexis Jones, weird insect like things called shreekwings that are barely six inches long but with a wingspread of over two feet and a very nasty bite, an all-terrain cargo hauler named Ambler, a Mnemosyne (a synthetic human), and an amnesiac girl they call Zeda are among the characters, devices and inhabitants of Loki. And there are many, many more. The Spur: Loki’s Rock is an action-packed wild ride! This is a must-have book for readers that enjoy adventure novels, and once again Mark Ellis has written one the year’s best. There are plot twists, fascinating characters, great action scenes and tight pacing. Now I’m waiting for next one!