Spacer's Bet

An Aliya War prequel

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Pub Date 23 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 23 Oct 2022

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The attack came out of nowhere. Suddenly a hunting pack, flashing Lupan IDs, dropped out of Jump to fire on the unarmed ore hauler Shojai.

Isfahan "Iz" Hauler Shojai had only an instant to wonder why before the attackers’ guns ripped open Shojai’s cargo bay.

The cargo bay where her ditzy younger brother Kansas was working. The bay whose crew was sucked out into the void. Like herself, Kansas was genetically engineered to survive vacuum. But his protective shell couldn’t hold forever. Battling time and the chaos of a wounded ship, Iz launched herself into the vacuum of the gutted hold to rescue her brother.

Badly damaged Shojai limps into RockPort only to discover that the port is now under the ‘protection’ of Moscow, a woman whose laws are as harsh as the blue ice of her liege world, Streiker. She demands all fees up front. Worse, the voices Kansas ‘hears in his head’ have him spouting a language he doesn’t even speak. But Moscow does.

Already fearing repercussions, Iz drags Kansas away from a dockside murder. But she soon learns that there is far more at stake than just their own lives. They must get to the near-mythical world of Earth or risk the destruction of the human Commonwealth itself.

It doesn’t help that Moscow’s cat attaches itself to Kansas. Especially because the cat seems to have an agenda of its own…

If you enjoy Anne Leckie’s Ancillary series, or Firefly, then you need to meet Iz and Kansas. Dive into this exciting prequel to the upcoming Aliya War series!

The attack came out of nowhere. Suddenly a hunting pack, flashing Lupan IDs, dropped out of Jump to fire on the unarmed ore hauler Shojai.

Isfahan "Iz" Hauler Shojai had only an instant to wonder...

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Featured Reviews

Spacer's Bet by Bonnie Milani

Thank you Netgallery for a copy for an unbiased review.

I'd never heard of the Aliya War Universe of books until I read Spacer's Bet, but my interest has been captured.

What an absolute delight of a Sci-Fi story. It was fast paced from the moment the book started. It had a great plot line, engaging characters and was something that felt familiar for Sci-Fi readers in how it was presented, yet was good enough to stand up on its own.

Iz and Kansas both were fantastic. The sibling interactions felt spot on. Main characters that you were rooting for pretty much from the start.

The stand out star though for me was Dillinger. I won't say any more about them because you need to read the book to find out.

I'm more than happy to give this 5/5 stars 🌟

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My favorite type of science fiction book is a novel that brings forth a new perspective to view; Spacer's Bet does that hands down. Milani has written a great book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to the next by Milani.

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This was an action-packed, fast-paced sci-fi thriller. Technology descriptions were believable, characters were interesting and well-developed. I liked how the author uses the theme from a classic novel and weaves it through her story. I was hooked from the first page. I totally enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the next one. Highly recommend

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5 stars, Two Spacer Kids, and a Lottery

by Bonnie Milani

This was the first book that I've read from Bonnie Milani. She writes a great science fiction novel, complete with Spacers, Miners, siblings, and Andy's. I deeply appreciated the lack of religious profanities. Godsbedamed seemed similar, yet different.

At times, I could imagine being there in the family spaceship, with Iz, Kansas, and Dillinger. There were some fantastical fantasy parts as well, but nothing too far out of reality to be believable.

Highly recommend it for an outer space adventure.

I received a complimentary copy of #spacersbet #aliyawarprequel from #netgalley #booksgosocial I was under no obligation to post a review. #bibliophile #reviewer #sciencefiction #scifi #fantasy #youngadult #2022newreleasebooks

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Thanks to a review online that assured me that I could read this book without having knowledge of any others in it’s series, I took a chance on Spacers Bet by Bonnie Milani. This Aliyah War prequel had all the pieces that I enjoy in science fiction. It is the adventure of a space worker named Iz who gets caught up in issues above her pay grade while trying to keep her brother out of trouble. Iz is an augmented human, and is anxious about her difference from others. She regularly comes in contact with other species, which adds a type of racial divide among the characters. And she seems to be used to doing crazy stunts and sacrifices to keep her young brother out of trouble. Situations take her away from the home she knows in space and to the origination of her human roots on Earth. The author gives wonderful sensory descriptions of being on our planet and Iz’s wonderment of having feet on the ground and no ceiling above her. She gets herself involved in the action early on, keeping the reader moving along with her plight. I highly enjoyed this fast paced science fiction tale for those who like biotech, genetics, space shuttle chases, political intrigue and android pets. I appreciate that Spacers Bet is not gory and has no profanity. I look forward to reading something additional from this author. Thank you to NetGalley for an early ecopy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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Stars: 4 out of 5

I haven't read any of the original books in the Aliya War series prior to this one. So this was my introduction to the series and the universe the author created, and I must admit that I am hooked. The world is interesting and well thought-out.

I love the idea that instead of terraforming different planets, humanity would modify themselves in order to survive in different environments encountered outside of Earth. Like being able to "shell-up" to survive up to 15 minutes in the hard vacuum for the Miners. It was sad to see that just because humanity spread into the galaxy, the backstabbing and us vs. them mentality wasn't eradicated. This is not Star Trek. This is a harsh and ruthless world where humans don't hesitate to enslave other humans if the occasion presents itself. 

The characters are usually what makes or breaks a book for me. It can have the best story in the world, but I won't enjoy it if I can't connect with at least one of the characters. I'm glad to say that all the characters are wonderful in this. I loved Iz and Kans, and Tahoma, and especially Kristen. I think there was criminally too little of him in this story though. 

The bond between the siblings rang very true to me. I could feel and understand Iz's frustration with her brain-addled brother, but also a mixture of guilt, love, worry and everything else that comes with being an older sister who thinks that she is the reason Kansas is the way he is. Even though that's not true. She didn't cause the accident that killed their habitat. In fact, she is the one who went into the vacuum to save her little brother, even though she was also hurt herself. Even though she was only eleven when that happened. But guilt is a tricky thing that doesn't obey the arguments of reason.

I must admit that I was a bit frustrated with her by the end of the story though. Her absolute pigheadedness grated on my nerves. You are in a hostile environment that you have never experienced before. You don't know the dangers, yet you persist on charging blindly along and ignoring the advise of the natives. I wanted to slap her silly a few times, and I'm convinced that half of their problems on Earth could have been avoided had she listened to anyone other than herself. 

Speaking of hostile environment and fish out of water moment, I loved how Iz's and Kans's reaction to being on a planet for the first time in their lives was handled. The things that we take for granted, like the fact that we can go outside and be able to breathe, are new to spaces who spend their lives on ships and space stations - enclosed spaces. For them, all this open space and sky is a source of panic. The feeling of the wind on their face makes them shell up because in space that sudden movement of air means a hole in the hull and precious air leaking into the vacuum.  And the idea of eating meat from a butchered animal is a source of disgust. 

I am not sure I was totally onboard with the budding love story between Tahoma and Iz though. I felt like it was not necessary, and it didn't feel natural. It was just kind of shoe-horned in there. The story worked fine even without adding this particular relationship. Especially since the author didn't really do anything with it in the end. 

Like I said before, this is my first book by this author and in this series, but I will definitely check out the next one.

PS: I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I bought a copy of this book after reading the description as it sounded interesting. Spacer's Bet by Bonnie Milani was definitely interesting and entertaining, and the world-building was quite unique. It was also labeled as a prequel so I figured it would be a good place to start if I enjoyed the story.

Starting off with a bang--ships come out of nowhere and attack the Shojai breaching the cargo bay and expelling the cargo and the people within. This event introduces the reader to Isfahan "Iz" Hauler Shojai and her younger brother, Kansas. Iz and Kansas are Miner Clan on a Hauler Clan ship. Iz saw the ships as they attacked, as did Kansas. They recognized that the markings on the ships and the ship's design are not the same. Thus begins a chain of events that pulls us into a political-economic tangle involving many settled worlds and clans.

In the aftermath of the cargo hold breach, Iz learns her brother is outside without a suit. As Miner Clan, they can shell up so she has a short time frame to rescue him and the tension is pretty high as she goes after him. She's successful and reports to the captain that the ships were not Wolf Clan but Streiker ships. Kansas backs her up on this. The ship is so damaged that they barely make it to the nearest space dock, Rockport. Where they find the port is now under Streiker control which is requiring full payment before any repairs can be made. They also want Iz and Kansas turned over to them for interrogation.

At this point readers may infer rather than terraforming planets, Earth decided it was easier to genetically alter humans to fit the planets. As you read on, you learn that each of these genetically altered groups or clans breed true and have common characteristics depending on what was needed to ensure survival.

We also learn that Iz is very protective of Kansas. It seems he was injured years earlier when he was blown out to space before he could shell up. He survived but had to have surgery to repair missing brain function. In Iz's mind, he hasn't been the same and tends to wander off, repeat things that just come to him, and space out at times. No one pays him much mind as he's considered scatterbrained or worse but he can do the jobs he is assigned and thus is a contributing member of the crew.

In the middle of this exciting space adventure, suddenly the next chapter takes place on Earth in the Sonoran Desert area and a Search & Rescue station run by Sgt. Tahoma Tso. He's visited by an off-worlder who looks much like a fox and requires him to find someone lost in the desert. Only this lost person has no bio-tracker and they don't know his last location other than in this desert. Oh, and by the way, Tahoma has a week to find him, or else—something non-specific but by definitely not nice.

Now these two separate stories alternate and eventually there seemed to be a link. Of course, both these plot lines are expected to converge at some point but until they do they are both exciting to read as both lines are full of murder, danger, and mayhem.

The plots do come together before the end of the tale. The characters are well-drawn and do not deviate from expected behavior. However, Kansas and the cat may surprise readers. Iz is so convinced her brother is clueless and helpless that it is painful to read some of their interactions. The ending has plenty of surprises and I'd guess the rest of the series is as well done. I know I enjoyed this prequel.

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