The novel “The Baba Yaga” by Eric Brown and Una McCormack was published for the first time in 2015. It’s the third book of the Weird Space series and follows “Satan’s Reach“.
The Expansion’s government is taking very seriously the information gathered about the threat posed by the aliens known as the Weird but there are disagreements about the measures to be taken. For the intelligence services it’s difficult to get precise information about creatures that literally come from another universe but the prospect is to destroy the planets where the aliens have opened portals killing all the local population.
Delia Walker is an intelligence analyst who proposes to follow a trace that would lead her to search for a planet in the area of space called Satan’s Reach where humans and Weird are said to live peacefully. Her position is definitely a minority but she believes it’s crucial to investigate so she decides to do it without the government’s support.
Eric Brown started writing the Weird Space series introducing a fictional universe in which most of humanity is united in the Expansion, a not exactly democratic government. In the first novel, published in 2012, he also introduced the aliens known as the Weird, offering new information in the second novel. With the third novel, the author was joined by Una McCormack, a writer known mainly for her novels set in the “Star Trek” and in the “Doctor Who” universes.
The Weird Space series is above all of the classic space opera type with a lot of action without much depth. In “The Baba Yaga” various elements are added, but in my opinion they’re developed only superficially. Like the first two novels in the series, its length is less than 350 pages, which are good for an adventurous work but they’re limited to properly develop a story containing several elements.
Once again, a new novel in the series means new protagonists and this is an overall problem because in each one there’s the need to introduce them with at least some background giving them at least a decent development. On the other hand, you can read “The Baba Yaga” without having read the previous novels of the series first losing very little as the authors provide enough information about that fictional universe.
In “The Baba Yaga” the protagonist is Delia Walker, an analyst of the Expansion’s intelligence. The theme of the reaction to the Weird aliens threat could be really important because it shows the government’s way of acting and therefore offered the possibility of creating parallels with today’s situation. The authors preferred to focus on an intrigue within the intelligence with mysterious events that influence the Expansion’s policy.
An additional complication comes from Delia Walker’s pregnancy. The social conventions within the Expansion are not clarified and this makes it difficult to offer insights on the subject. Luckily, there’s a point in that pregnancy within the plot but the authors seem to want to focus on the protagonist’s sense of motherhood thanks to the chance meeting with a child belonging to the Vetch species. His presence in turn gave the opportunity to offer more information on that alien species, instead he’s reduced to little more than a comic relief with the risk of a Jar Jar effect.
In the end, “The Baba Yaga” is what can be expected from the novels of this series: a space opera based on adventure and therefore with a lot of fast-paced action. The most important characters have their own well-defined personality but most of them are functional to the plot.
“The Baba Yaga” has no real conclusion but the plot reaches an important moment remaining open to developments that are presumably present in the next novel in the series, written by Una McCormack only. I didn’t have great expectations for this novel yet it managed to disappoint me. The underlying problem is that the potential wasn’t been developed and it remains a rather superficial adventure. Fans of the Weird Space series might like it.