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Fate of the Kinunir

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue.

Fate of the Kinunir. Robert E. Vardeman
Original Publication: 2013
Current Availability: eBook (Amazon, DriveThru)

I don’t think I’ve done a book review before, or rather a novel review. I’m not sure how to go about one. Anyway I’ll give it a go. I read Fate of the Kinunir having just finished the Dumarest Saga from E. C. Tubbs. I know, what have I been doing for the last 30 odd years? My excuse is that some of the later books are quite difficult to get hold of and my local library doesn’t carry them. I wanted something just to keep me reading in the mornings, and I’m a Traveller fan, so why not?

Fate of the Kinunir is like watching Titanic; you know what the ending is going to be. The Kinunir ends up in Shionthy asteroid belt having eliminated its crew by exposing them to vacuum and exhausting all its fuel. So how does it end up there? Mr. Vardeman takes us through a story of how it happened.

Mr Vardeman is not new to writing the odd novel or two. He’s done a Star Trek, a Magic: the Gathering, and a Battletech among others, so putting pen to paper and writing into the ethos and style of the game is not unusual for him. I also found it quite surprisingly that I’ve read him before in that back in the day I read some of his novels by accident that I won’t go into here.

For those of you who do Traveller, Mr. Vardeman sticks to the assumptions of Traveller Adventure 1: The Kinunir in that he portrays the colonial cruisers as a significant ship in the Imperial Navy , or rather he portrays a small-ship/loose-Imperial setting where Regina subsector has Nobles that may have the “Ear of the Emperor” as one of the main characters takes into consideration, i.e., the Third Imperium setting wasn’t as defined as it is now when Adventure 1 came out, and Mr. Vardeman sticks to this, along with probably information from within the rumours such as “A subsector official pompously states that the subsector armed forces have four Kinunir-class ships in service each with enough troop strength to put down any military operations that threaten the peace of the Imperium.” because I’m not sure that two squads of marines would be enough … also within the novel it seems that a “Dreadnought” was destroyed by pirates, and I can’t see this happening if we had got to Supplement 9: Fighting Ships and corsairs going up against a Tigress and winning.

Mr. Vardeman does use quite a bit of the information presented in Adventure 1 in his story. My guess is that Mr. Vardeman isn’t a Traveller fan per se because of the assumptions that he makes about the characters within the story and the assumptions he makes about the Traveller Universe. We have a “broadcast centre” that’s doing TV on a TL3 world (the story is set in Keng (and we get a book 6 system profile for it)), and a city next to a starport that comes across more like a market town as opposed to one that’s next to the starport on a size 2 world with 800 million population, and an E class starport that has facilities to fix significant hull damage to the Kinunir. It kind of doesn’t quite fit, for me anyway.

It’s not too difficult to work out where he’s going with the plot line, we know what happens in and around that area of space, and we know what the ending is going to be and Mr. Vardeman takes us there in a quite an engaging way. He uses a couple of standard Military Sci-Fi tropes and a couple of obvious plot points you can see a mile off but the story is ok and it’s quite engaging as I said.

I’m dyslexic so being able to read something that flows is important to me. If I find it difficult to read then it becomes a struggle to read the book as opposed to enjoy he story. If that makes sense. So what I’m trying to say is that for me Mr. Vardeman is easy to read and that made story engaging enough not to want to put the book down. I read the book in a little under three days, while working, helping around the house, doing odd jobs etc. or that is I didn’t put the book down.

It’s difficult to go into much more without give the plot away. Mostly because Traveller fans will know lots about the Kinunir. And that probably doesn’t help much. Apologies.

Is it Traveller? You know … kind of.

Is it good? … It’s ok.

Is it ground breaking stuff that’s going to review insights into the Traveller Universe that we didn’t know before … not really.

Is it worth 5.38? Good question, that depends on what you expect to get for 5.38. I could buy a second hand Jack Reacher novel for less than that, so I’d say it’s overpriced. It would be better at 2 for the Kindle edition, but presumably the author and/or Marc get no money for their efforts if you go down that low.

If there are such things as 2nd hand copies of it and you can pick it up for a pound or two, why not?