Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Cosmic Cowboys #1
Length: 175 pages
Publisher: Big Cedar
Date Released: July 15, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon
How can the chance of a lifetime go so horribly wrong?
Mining Engineer Cole Hudson signed up for NASA astronaut training, but after washing out short of getting his gold wings, he retreats to Alaska where he stakes out a gold claim. When billionaire entrepreneur Duncan Janson offers him an opportunity to join a mining team on an asteroid, Cole jumps at the chance.
But nothing is as it seems. Former NASA reject and rival classmate, Tessa Hernandez, is also a member of the team, and from the beginning of the mission test flight, things go wrong. They soon discover they’re not the only ones on the asteroid. As they try to escape, they are pulled through a wormhole and back to the early 1800s New Mexico desert where aliens and Apaches may be the least of their problems.
While Space Cowboys & Indians isn’t really like the 2011 movie Cowboys & Aliens, it also isn’t not like it. Along with a bit of Farscape or the time-travel episodes of Stargate: SG-1. Also a bit of John Heldt’s The Mine. Along with a small contribution from the rebooted Star Trek.
Which is just fine. I love all of those antecedents. Admittedly some more than others. (I wish they’d kept their rebooting craziness away from MY Star Trek.
Space Cowboys & Indians really only has one erstwhile cowboy in it. Texan Cole Hudson is a mining engineer who flunked out of the NASA astronaut program in a very near version of our future. When he receives an offer he doesn’t want to refuse – trading mining in Alaska for a chance to mine an asteroid – he’s all in.
His pilots are also late-program washouts from NASA, Tessa Hernandez and Noah Wright. While Noah and Cole get along just fine, something about Cole has always rubbed Tessa the wrong way, and nothing about their new jobs has changed that.
There is a Space X contest, similar to the one going on right now, that will award jillions of dollars to the first company to establish tourism on the moon. Duncan Janson’s brilliant idea is to send Cole, Noah and Tessa out to mine an asteroid. Sales of the space minerals will more than fund his Lunar Hotel – if it works.
Cole definitely finds minerals on the target asteroid – but their little ship is not the only one stopping on this particular asteroid for a mining and refuelling stop. When both their little Space X capsule and the alien ship get sucked into a wormhole, the crew finds themselves in the middle of the adventure of their lives. One even bigger than the adventure they were already on.
They crash in the New Mexico desert, not far from where both the Space Xport and Roswell NM will be, nearly two centuries in the future.
Instead, they have landed in early 1800s Apache country, and they need to convince the most fearsome tribe in the Old West to help them kill an alien, commandeer its space ship, and leave the way they think they came.
It might work. It might kill them. Or the alien might get them all first.
Escape Rating B: The time travel is a bit of handwavium. But then again, time travel pretty much always involves handwavium. What’s more interesting here is the result.
Once Cole, Tessa and Noah figure out where and when they are, they are left with a fascinating dilemma to discuss. Has this all happened before? Will it all happen again? Did the aliens in Roswell really exist? Who else (or what else) has accidentally found him, her, or itself on Earth after a one-way trip through that semi-stable wormhole?
How much of their own history are they messing up just by being where they are? And how much of it are they creating?
Finding the Apaches was a stroke of luck. That the downed alien also finds the Apaches is a stroke of luck. Good for our astronauts, bad for the alien and some of the Apaches. We get just enough of a glimpse of life in the tribe to wonder how realistically they are portrayed, but it doesn’t matter for this story.
What does matter is Cole’s outrageous lie to the tribe – that he and Tessa are married. It keeps them together, and sets up the possibility that their rivalry will turn romantic.
The story as a whole is a bit lightweight, but those questions that the reader is left with have echoes which will hopefully be resolved in later episodes in this series. Meanwhile, this first episode is a ton of fun.
Speaking of the series – I read some material that led me to believe that this was the first part of a serial novel. If it is, this one is done right. The story has a beginning, middle and end that provides definite closure of the events in this book while still leaving plenty of teasers for the next installment. Readers are left hoping for more, but not dangling in mid-story. Thank you, Lisa!