The novel “The Fortress in Orion” by Mike Resnick was published for the first time in 2014. It’s the first novel in the Dead Enders series.
Colonel Nathan Pretorius is entrusted with the most difficult secret missions behind enemy lines and at the end of the last one he died for a few minutes before the doctors managed to bring him back to life. For this reason, he no longer wants to be involved in more missions on behalf of the Democracy but General Cooper finds a way to convince him to lead a very important mission for the fate of the war against the Transkei Coalition.
The Democracy has managed to grow a clone of Michkag, a key General in the Transkei Coalition: being able to replace the real one would mean allowing him to influence their enemies to positions more oriented towards a peace treaty. Michkag is constantly under protection and Nathan Pretorius chooses a group of unlikely heroes to infiltrate the fortress on Orion to proceed with the replacement.
Mike Resnick has set most of his works in a single fictional universe creating a future history that spans millennia during which mankind colonizes many planets and meets many other species, in some cases clashing against other coalitions. Such a long period allows the author to also handle changes in the political entity that also governs human beings by creating autonomous mini-series set in very different periods.
The Dead Enders series is set at the time of the entity known as the Democracy, during the war against the Transkei Coalition. During “Orion: The Fortress” Mike Resnick provides some information about this enemy while Colonel Nathan Pretorius and his collaborators travel incognito to reach the planet Orion, where they proceed with their mission.
From the beginning we can see that “The Fortress in Orion” is one of Mike Resnick’s adventurous science fiction novels, characterized by a length that’s limited for today’s standards with a rather fast pace despite the many dialogues thanks to a linear plot that is developed through much action. Some of those novels are space opera, in this case there’s an interstellar journey but it’s used to perform a secret operation, in some ways a science fiction version of “Mission Impossible”.
Colonel Nathan Pretorius convinces some people – a term that must be taken in a broad sense as they belong to various species – who have very special talents to join his team. They have motivations that are not really elaborated and in the end my impression is that they need to live risky situations to feel alive. Their journey to the planet Orion occupies most of the novel and is used by Mike Resnick to describe the possible dangers at each stop but also to give some development to the protagonists, who can be described as over the top but not too much.
“The Fortress in Orion” is the kind of novel that probably Mike Resnick could write in his sleep since it doesn’t contain many complications. It’s a kind of adventure that’s easy to read and enjoyable, also thanks to the irony Nathan Pretorius takes things with. In the end, however, I didn’t feel much tension and this isn’t positive considering the type of plot. Basically, among this author’s novels, it’s good for spending a few hours without thinking too much.