The novel “Starship: Mutiny” by Mike Resnick was published for the first time in 2005. It’s the first novel in the “Starship” series.
Cole Wilson is an officer assigned to the Republic starship Theodore Roosevelt. Cole has received several decorations during his career because he achieved extraordinary results over several clashes with the enemy of the Teroni Federation. At the same time however he tends to ignore regulations and especially the orders he received when he considers them inappropriate to the situation.
The Theodore Roosevelt is an old starship that would’ve already been dismantled if it wasn’t still needed for the war. The crew is made up of outcasts who committed serious violations of the regulations. However, when facing the enemy, Wilson Cole doesn’t falter and still acts in his own way.
Most of the stories written by Mike Resnisk are part of a single future history that spans many centuries. Within this history, Resnick has written several series and other stories that can be read independently.
The “Starship” series is set in a time when the Republic is at war with the Teroni Federation. The Republic includes the human species but also various alien species and the Teroni Federation is a coalition of various species as well.
“Starship: Mutiny” was labeled as military science fiction but there’s little combat in the course of the novel. The starship Theodore Roosevelt is too old to participate in normal war activities therefore it’s used to guard the planets of the Republic. It’s a situation in which it’s not supposed to come into contact with the enemy, in fact the biggest problem for the crew is boredom.
Interestingly, just when Wilson Cole enters service on the Theodore Roosevelt trouble begins. Although the novel is short by today’s standards, two different adventures are told with the crew facing the enemy and the far from orthodox strategies used by Cole to defeat them or at least to limit the damage.
Wilson Cole uses all means at his disposal to achieve results, including the involvement of the inhabitants of a planet and the local press. Cole quickly assess the situations in which he finds himself and improvises a strategy to counter the enemy.
Mike Resnick doesn’t tell us much about the technologies used so if you want a hard science fiction novel “Starship: Mutiny” is not for you. We know that in that universe fictional spaceships can quickly travel amond stars and interstellar communications are efficient but we don’t know how they work.
When Wilson Cole infers that a hostile spaceship has landed on a planet of the Republic to steal the energy from its volcanoes because it comes from a planet that is short of energy, we simply have to trust him. On the other hand, Cole seems really smart and his conclusions are always correct, unlike those of the other officers of Theodore Roosevelt and the ones of the enemies who seem to have limited strategic skills too.
Despite his cleverness, Wilson Cole is always surprised when the generals and admirals of the Republic punish him for violating regulations. Cole considers them incompetent but doesn’t even try to work within the rules: he simply thinks that the end justifies the means.
Wilson Cole is a character a bit one-dimensional, even if within his limits he’s fairly developed. The novel is too short to really give depth to the various characters but at least some of the major ones have a decent development.
Mike Resnick is an experienced writer – and has written much better – and manages to cover “Starship: Mutiny” flaws also with some non-conventional ideas and its high pace. It’s a novel you can read very quickly with its focus on the basic elements of the story with a very linear storyline. However, if after reading it you think about it you can identify the plot issues, unless you’ve already thought about them while you were reading it.
In essence, “Starship: Mutiny” is a light space opera good to spend a few hours without much thought but nothing more.