Book Review: Hell Ship by Philip Palmer

Hell Ship by Philip Palmer

Hell Ship by Philip Palmer

Orbit, 451pp paperback, £8.99 cover price

Reviewed by R A Bardy [@mangozoid]

The Hell Ship hurtles through space laying waste to planets, civilisations and complete universes, collecting in its wake thousands of slaves, each the last of their race and forced to witness for themselves the complete destruction of everything and everyone they’ve ever known.

One of these slaves, Sharrock, is a champion like no other and has vengeance on his mind, and all the time in the universe to plan and plot against his captors, with several lifetimes in which to accomplish it as he is repeatedly brought back to life after every attempt. Enter Sai-as, a huge squid-like sea-borne creature serving as a kind of slave caretaker who has long since given up the fight and will stop at nothing to maintain the balance of peace within the Hell Ship. Enter too Jak, an ex-trader and Explorer who is now just a mind in the body of a starship, spending his entire existence and thousands of years chasing the black Hell Ship through myriad universes via rifts in space, intent on a different kind of revenge and documenting the trail of destruction left by the infernal Hell Ship.

I absolutely loved this story: it’s hugely inventive, wildly imaginative, full to the brim with far-fetched themes and ideas, bold characters, fantastical aliens, self-replicating starships and universe-busting weapons. A fast-moving roller-coaster ride of creativity, and massively recommended.

* This review originally appeared on the British Fantasy Society website here

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