Kieran Shea's Off Rock was published by Titan Books in April 2017.
Information about Kieran Shea:
Kieran Shea is the author of the Koko series of science-fiction adventures: Koko Takes a Holiday and Koko the Mighty. He has been nominated for the Story South's Million Writers Award twice. Follow him on Twitter @BlackIrishBlarn.
Information about Off Rock:
In the year 2778, Jimmy Vik is feeling dissatisfied.
After busting his ass for assorted interstellar mining outfits for close to two decades, downsizing is in the wind, his ex-girlfriend/supervisor is climbing up his back, and daily Jimmy wonders if he’s played his last good hand.
So when Jimmy stumbles upon a significant gold pocket during a routine procedure on Kardashev 7-A, he believes his luck may have changed - larcenously so. But smuggling the gold “off rock” won’t be easy.
To do it, Jimmy will have to contend with a wily criminal partner, a gorgeous covert assassin, the suspicions of his ex, and the less than honorable intentions of an encroaching, rival mining company. As the clock ticks down, treachery and betrayal loom, the body count rises, and soon Jimmy has no idea who to trust.
Part screwball comedy, part heist novel, and part homage to B-cinema sci-fi... Off Rock is a hilarious, lightning-fast adventure of the most entertaining and irreverent kind.
A REVIEW OF KIERAN SHEA'S OFF ROCK
Kieran Shea's Off Rock is, pardon my language, one hell of a good, pulpy and deliciously quirky science fiction novel for adults, because it's pure escapism from start to finish. When I started reading it, I found myself thoroughly engaged by the story and its many twists and turns. It's been a while since I've read as enjoyable and entertaining a science fiction novel as this one, because it was a lot of fun.
Because I'm fond of good heist stories, I was eager to read Off Rock. It seemed like the kind of a novel that would interest me and my instincts were correct, because I found everything about it enjoyable. It was exactly the kind of an entertaining heist story that I expected it to be.
Perhaps the best way to describe Off Rock is to say that it feels like a wild hybrid of classic heist films (Ocean's Eleven etc) and certain films made by the Coen brothers with a tiny dash of Firefly, Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat and pulp fiction thrown into the mix, because the story is enjoyable and author's humour is of the quirky variety.
Off Rock is a story about Jimmy Vik, who has spent nearly two decades working for deep-space mining companies and wonders if he has wasted the better part of his life. When he suddenly finds a significant gold pocket during a routine mining operation in the Kappa Quadrant on a Cyclopean-Class moon known as Kardashev 7-A, he believes that his luck may have finally changed and he might be able to live the rest of his life in relative leisure. However, smuggling the gold "off rock" is anything but easy and straightforward, because there are risks. The penalties for keeping information from the mining company Azoick and stealing from them may lead to incarceration and medical experimentation. Jimmy has to find a way to move the gold without anyone finding out about it. He teams up with a man called Jock Roscoe, who's no stranger to shady deeds...
I won't write more about the story, but I'll mention that if you're into heist stories, you'll love the unfolding story and the ending.
The characterisation works well, because the author sheds light on the protagonists' backgrounds and fleshes out certain aspects of their lives. He easily creates a fascinating and quirky cast of characters that ranges from smugglers to covert assassins.
Jimmy Vik is a well-created character and a fascinating protagonist, because he is anything but perfect. He is 35 years old and thinks that he has wasted his life. Finding the gold pocket makes him question his situation, because taking a huge risk may pay off and he might get an opportunity to enjoy life on his own terms.
Leelawati "Leela" Pendergast is Jimmy's ex-girlfriend who now works as his supervisor. She doesn't understand why Jimmy suddenly broke up with her, because they were good together and their relationship seemed to work well, and it affects her way of dealing with Jimmy.
Piper Kollár is a gorgeous and striking blonde. She works as an agent and an assassin for the Chimeric Circle. She took the liquidation gig, because she and her fiancé need money. The compensation from the gig will more than cover their nuptials and their honeymoon, and it will also reduce the mortgage on their new apartment.
Jock Roscoe is a shady and tattooed man who knows a lot about how to cheat people and how to get things - even difficult ones - done. He has big debts that keep on haunting him.
Zaafer Daavi is a tech guy who has a candy fetish. He loves candy and binge-eats them.
There isn't much worldbuilding in this novel, but I find it a good thing, because the main focus is on the story and the characters. The author nicely focuses on keeping tight reins on the plot and doesn't waste time on elements that would hinder the development of the happenings. It's great that the author takes his time to develop things, because in this kind of stories it's essential to have a good and thoroughly designed plot. When things get rolling, the author delivers all the goods and then some.
Kieran Shea writes fluently about trust issues, because Jimmy has to wonder who to trust. It was fun to read about how Jimmy kept things secret and wondered how much information he should reveal to others. The author also writes well about what happens between Jimmy and Leela, because things are delicate between them due to their abrupt breakup.
Just like all the best heist stories, Off Rock truly begins to shine when things go bad and the characters have to deal with what happens. That's when the real fun begins. I won't go into details about the happenings, but I can reveal that readers are in for quite a ride.
Kieran Shea's writing style feels energetic and fresh. He writes fast-paced prose that is easy to like and fun to read. His writing style strongly reminds me of old pulp classics and classic crime stories. I find it refreshing that he dares to write pure entertainment in an unapologetic way and has a keen eye for bad-assery.
In this novel, Kieran Shea combines many elements in a highly enjoyable way. He uses elements taken from classic screwball comedies, heist stories and sci-fi films to create a story that is filled with intriguing moments, humour, action and adventure. There are a few scenes which can be seen as appreciative nods towards classic heist films.
I give this novel full five stars for its entertainment values. I look forward to reading more novels by Kieran Shea, because he clearly has a talent for writing this kind of science fiction. I haven't yet had an opportunity to take a look at his Koko novels, but I intend to read them soon, because I've heard nothing but good of them.
If you're in need of addictive summer reading, you should read Kieran Shea's Off Rock, because it's an unputdownable reading experience. When you're enjoying the peace and quiet of a hot summer day and want to be thoroughly entertained by a good and exciting story, Off Rock is a perfect companion to you.