Audiobook Review: Corsair by James Cambias
Narrator: Victor Bevine
Published by Audible Studios on May 5, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 8 hours 9 minutes
In the early 2020s, two young, genius computer hackers, Elizabeth Santiago and David Schwartz, meet at MIT, where Schwartz is sneaking into classes, and have a brief affair. David is amoral and out for himself, and soon disappears. Elizabeth dreams of technology and space travel and takes a military job after graduating. Nearly ten years later, David is setting himself to become a billionaire by working in the shadows under a multiplicity of names for international thieves, and Elizabeth works in intelligence preventing international space piracy. With robotic mining in space becoming a lucrative part of Earth's economy, shipments from space are dropped down the gravity well into the oceans. David and Elizabeth fight for dominance of the computer systems controlling ore drop placement in international waters. If David can nudge a shipment 500 miles off its target, his employers can get there first and claim it legally in the open sea. Each one intuits that the other is their real competition but can't prove it. And when Elizabeth loses a major shipment, she leaves government employ to work for a private space company to find a better way to protect shipments. But international piracy has very high stakes and some very evil players. And both Elizabeth and David end up in a world of trouble. Space pirates and computer hackers . . . James L. Cambias's Corsair is a thrilling near-future adventure!
Corsair is a thrilling and fun adventure full of space pirates and hackers, the kind of book that grabs you and holds you down (willingly) until it is all told. This book is pretty short, but it’s an addictive “page turner” that finished before I knew it. I say “page turner” in quotes because in actuality, I listened to this one as an audiobook so there were no actual pages involved. But I am really happy I did. There are some books that are just very well suited for audiobooks, and this was certainly one of them. The story and names are all very easy to follow while listening and the narration was very good, relaying the story clearly without ever becoming the focus of the listener (meaning, I heard the story well told). The style of Corsair reminds me a bit of Scalzi or Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, but with this book, most (if not just about all) of the story is set here on earth rather than in space.
David Schwartz and Elizabeth Santiago meet while taking classes at MIT in the not so distant future. They are both incredibly bright, but incredibly different. David is a bit “creative” or “generous” with his moral compass, and Elizabeth is pretty much a straight shooter. So not surprisingly, their courses in life diverge soon after meeting.
Fast forward 10 years, we find Elizabeth entered the military and is now working to fight space piracy and David has continued his less than legal approach to life. And it appears he has done quite well for himself. Their paths meet again as they both get pulled in to a nefarious plot for the ultimate space piracy. I knew it would happen, based on the initial meeting (and the blurb), but I really enjoyed seeing how they were brought together again in different ways (form different sides) by this plot.
I like David, he’s just a fun, care-free type of guy. The kind of character that just amuses me and is hard for me to not like. He’s certainly not perfect, as any law enforcement official could tell you, and he could stand to give other people a bit more consideration instead of always thinking of himself. But I can’t help it, I still like him, as egotistical as he may be. Elizabeth is set on doing the “right” thing, even when that may not match procedure (she wound up working for the military with a focus on fighting space piracy). There’s an interesting look into the politics involved, and how sometimes the procedurally correct thing may not be the “right” thing overall. I know that’s not a new idea, but I still enjoy it and the conflict it can create. As different as these two characters are, I found myself rooting for both of them, which can be fun when they may or may not want the same thing.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable read, full of action and suspense with touches of humor.