Michael Brachman's The Milk Run was published in March 2015.
Information about Michael Brachman:
Michael Brachman has a Ph.D. in Sensory Science with a minor in Computer Science. Rome's Revolution is his first science fiction series, depicting the enduring love between a man from the 21st century and a woman from the 35th century. Between the two of them, they fend off various threats to mankind. The science behind the science fiction is meticulously researched. It is so realistic, you will believe that these stories are true, they just haven't happened yet.
Information about The Milk Run:
It was supposed to be easy!
Aason Bierak is a not-so-ordinary 21-year-old man living in the 35th century. He and his 16-year-old sister Lupe take a quick trip to the home of Planet OMCOM, a computer the size of Earth, to upgrade a crucial piece of equipment. The trip was supposed to be easy, so easy Aason's father dubbed it a milk run. After Aason and Lupe complete the upgrade, Planet OMCOM convinces them to test his latest invention, the Null Fold X-drive. This new star-drive could be the key to unlocking the galaxy.
During their first excursion into Null Space, disaster strikes. Strange beings, made solely of light, pluck Lupe right out of their spaceship. Aason's only clue to her whereabouts is the last three words Lupe spoke to him before she disappeared. Embarking on a desperate search, Aason travels 68 light years to the Nu2 Lupi star system where he is assaulted by man-eating creatures, hostile colonists, walking-talking plant people and a bodiless entity named Molokai that thinks it is a god. Aason discovers his only hope of rescuing his sister is to climb aboard the largest starship ever assembled and travel at unthinkable velocities to a dimension beyond comprehension, a place where his very soul could be in jeopardy.
Set in the same universe as the Rome's Revolution trilogy, The Milk Run is cinematic in scope and offers an adventure filled with intrigue and meticulously researched hard science. It even has little green men! Will Aason find his long-lost sister? Will he lose his soul along the way? Find out in the action-packed science fiction novel The Milk Run.
A REVIEW OF MICHAEL BRACHMAN'S THE MILK RUN
Michael Brachman's The Milk Run is the first novel in The Vuduri Knights series. It's set in the same universe as the Rome's Revolution series. It's an epic and addictive space adventure novel that will please and impress fans of fast-paced and well written sci-fi romps.
This novel can be used as an excellent entry point to the Rome's Revolution universe, because Michael Brachman fluently introduces all the characters, terms, politics, places and previous happenings to new readers. He has infused the story with plenty of information so that new readers will feel almost immediately at home and will be able to enjoy the happenings.
It's possible that experienced readers of the series may feel a bit burdened reading about previous happenings etc, but the story is so good and absorbing that it's easy to enjoy it. Besides, if it's been a while since you've read the previous novels, it's good to reacquaint yourself with the happenings. I'm sure that when experienced readers get to the point where the K'val are first seen, it'll be impossible for them to stop reading the story.
Although The Milk Run is similar to the previous novels, it slightly differs from them. The previous novels were stories about Rome and Rei, but The Milk Run is Aason's story, because the happenings center around Aason and his quest to find his kidnapped sister, Lupe. This novel reveals more information about the future world, because the author introduces new creatures and interesting entities to his readers.
Here's information about the story:
Aason Bierak and his little sister, Lupe, are on their way to visit Planet OMCOM, which is a big computer, to update an important piece of equipment. Something happens during the journey and Lupe disappears. She seems to be taken from the ship by glowing tentacles that are made of light. It seems that Lupe may be found in Nu2 Lupi star system, which is 68 light-years away from the place where Aason is. It was a presumed target of one of Aason's father's Arks. Aason travels there and soon finds himself in the middle of intriguing happenings and strange beings and entities...
This is the beginning of a compelling story about a mission that should've been easy, but turns out to be extremely difficult, because something unexpected happens at a wrong time that complicates matters. The story goes far beyond a normal science fiction story, because the author addresses such issues as immortality, spirituality and souls from a fresh perspective.
Here's a bit of information about some of the characters:
- Aason is an interesting and courageous protagonist, because he's a young man who seeks his sister and tries to save her. He's willing to do anything to save his sister. He's a brave young man who has all the traits of both the Essessoni (humans from the 21st century) and Vuduri (24-chromosome mind-connected humans of the future).
- OMCOM is a computer the size of a planet. He was originally a computer installed on Skyler Base within the Tabit System, but he transferred his consciousness elsewhere.
- Junior, MINIMCOM's son (MINIMCOM was originally an autopilot computer; circumstances and experience caused him to became self-aware), has all the abilities of his father. He's Aason's cousin.
- Aroline is a nice addition to the cast of characters. She's a young woman who joins Aason on his quest. She wants to save her father.
All the characters are interesting and easily likeable characters. It's great that Michael Brachman has managed to create this kind of characters, because most authors who emphasize scientific accuracy and pay attention to technical details forget to create interesting characters. He has understood that it's just as important to develop characters as it is to pay attention to scientific details.
Reading about Aason and his adventures was thrilling and satisfying. I think that many readers will enjoy reading about how far Aason has to go to save his sister and how he has to risk his soul to get her back. Saving Lupe turns out to be extremely difficult, because it involves travelling to a dimension that is almost impossible to reach. I'm not going to write spoilers about what happens in this dimension, but I can say that it offers interesting surprises for readers and fans of the series (I was thrilled to read about what Aason experienced in the other dimension).
The author writes well about what happens between Aason and Aroline and how their relationship develops. Their feelings towards each other are handled well, because there's sexual attraction with a touch of eroticism between them.
In my opinion the author writes fluently about sexual situations. Just like in Rome's Revolution, sex is used as a tool to learn new abilities in this novel. I think that many readers will enjoy reading about how Aason has sex in order to learn a new and important ability.
Worldbuilding is just as impressive and interesting in this novel as it is in the previous novels. The author has created an intriguing future world where human beings have evolved into the Vuduri. The Vuduri differ a lot from the 21st century human beings, because they have 24 chromosomes and they're mind-connected to their collective consciousness, The Overmind. It was great that the author took worldbuilding to a whole new level by writing about the planet where the K'val lived and the other dimension (this added plenty of depth to the story).
One of the most intriguing things about this novel is that the author writes about plant people, the K'val. They're interesting creatures, because they have been given feelings and love for their families. Because they have feelings, they have to do what their Lord, Molokai, tells them to do or they'll suffer the consequences and feel pain. They have to offer humans to their Lord for food.
The interaction between the K'val and Aason is excellent and displays the author's ability to write believable and entertaining dialogue. It was enjoyable to read about how Aason talked with the K'val and how they responded to him and his actions.
Michael Brachman explores the lives of the K'val in an intriguing way, because he slowly reveals more information about them. It was interesting for me to read about their biology and lifespan, because the author seemed to have thought of everything when he wrote about them. I was impressed by his ability to write about them and their habits and traits.
Molokai is an especially interesting entity, because it's a bodiless and powerful entity that thinks it is a god. Molokai has roamed the planet for many years and has sucked energy and life from innocent people to become stronger. It needs lots of strength and has started a breeding program to achieve its goals.
Michael Brachman has spent a lot of time polishing the scientific details and has researched things to make everything as authentic and believable as possible. It's possible that readers who are not used to reading about science and technology may at first be a bit overwhelmed by the huge amount of scientific details and technology, but the author writes so fascinatingly about these issues that they're quite easy to understand. If you happen to feel overwhelmed by the amount of scientific details, don't worry about it, because you'll soon find yourself captivated by them (you don't have to be an engineer or a researcher to be able to enjoy this novel).
When I read this novel, I noticed that Michael Brachman has developed a lot as an author since the first novels were written. He writes more confidently, thoughtfully and fluently than before and pays more attention to small details that spice up the story. In the earlier novels his prose felt at times a bit unfinished, but in this novel it feels fluent and good. It's nice that he has developed so much as an author, because he's one of the few authors who genuinely seem to be enthusiastic about writing about science and scientific inventions. He also has more imagination than many other authors.
One of the best things about The Milk Run (and the whole series) is that the author knows how to combine entertainment, technology and science fiction in an entertaining way. This novel is a perfectly balanced combination of different elements - science, humour, action, love and technology - that together form a stunningly original vision of a possible future of mankind. It's perfect escapism for science fiction readers who want science, adventure and intriguing concepts from their novels.
Fans of the previous novels will probably want to know if Rome and Rei are featured in this novel. I can mention that the author writes about them and something happens to them, but I won't reveal anything else (it wouldn't be fair to readers to give too much away of the story). I'm sure that fans of the series will be pleased to read about what happens to them.
This may sound like an odd comparison, but in my opinion Michael Brachman's The Milk Run and its predecessors are equivalent to Karen Azinger's fantasy series (The Silk & Steel Saga) in terms of entertainment values, complex worldbuilding and epic storytelling. Both authors have the same kind of approach to speculative fiction - they both aim to entertain and thrill their readers as well as they can without resorting into cheap tricks.
Michael Brachman's The Milk Run is one of the most entertaining space opera adventures I've ever had the pleasure to read, because it's pure science fiction entertainment from start to finish. The author has done his best to please both newcomers to the series and experienced readers and he has succeeded in it. I sincerely hope that the author will soon write a sequel or a companion novel, because it would nice to read more about the characters and their adventures.
My final words are:
The Milk Run is excellent entertainment and wonderful escapism for science fiction readers. It's intriguing entertainment with a strongly beating human heart at its core. Everybody who loves epic sci-fi romps should read this novel, because it's difficult to find similar kind of engaging and thoughtfully written novels.