The crew of the Star Cruiser Infinity goes on a mind-bending mission to save the universe in I Have a Question, a meticulously-built science fiction tale.
In the 38th century, the Alliance of Planets is at war with the Quagga Consortium following the latter’s vicious attack, killing millions on Earth 27 years earlier. Admiral Jenki, the present-day commander of the Infinity, headed an Earth peace delegation at the time of the attack, and he’s once again involved in a new truce to end the war.
The only stumbling block: a recently-discovered remote planet that could provide a tactical advantage to either side. Both sides agree to jointly destroy the planet to secure the truce.
Visiting the planet, Jenki encounters Old Man, a humanoid with long white hair and a robe. Old Man, who knows all things, warns that 47 ships, gargantuan and with highly advanced technologically, are approaching to prevent the planet’s destruction. Upon arrival, the Forty-Seven systematically destroy Alliance and Consortium ships and kill nearly everyone in sight. Old Man resurrects the dead and reassembles the ships, explaining that the massacre “is a mere trifle compared to what could happen” unless a select few accompany him in the Infinity on a mission to negotiate with a giant alien species to stop the destruction of their galaxy and every other galaxy.
Author Macintosh Steele clearly enjoys world-building, crafting a thorough backstory on military technology and interplanetary history. Missing, however, is an equal focus on character development and emotional depth. The author leans on overworked tropes, such as characters discovering their long-buried pasts. A plot line regarding the developmentally disabled brother of Jenki’s second-in-command, Captain Edmonds, feels patronizing and insensitive. Tedious information dumps abound, weighing down the narrative.
The cliffhanger ending points to a sequel. Readers will hope that richer characterizations inform the next book.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.