Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines
The people remaining on a devastated Earth have been turned into zombies by a virus accidentally unleashed by one of their own scientists. Fortunately for some humans, a race of aliens known as the Krakau have figured out how to genetically engineer humans without the virus. Thus, about 10,000 humans still live, but rather than return to Earth to be cannibalized by their own species, they choose to work for the Krakau who saved them. The Krakau are benevolent overlords; they have even preserved the records of as much of Earth’s civilization as they could so that their human fosterlings can have their own culture.
One of these humans is Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos who leads a team of janitors on one of the Krakau spaceships. When the ship is attacked by the Podryans, an aggressive alien species, a series of mishaps incapacitates their Krakau leaders and leaves Mops in charge of the ship. With her crew of janitors, she must learn how to fly the ship, defeat the Prodryans, and unravel the mystery of the bioweapon that attacked them. Their investigations will uncover some uncomfortable truths…
Terminal Alliance (2017), the first novel in Jim C. Hines’ JANITORS OF THE POST-APOCALYPSE series, is an amusing space opera with a unique premise. Choosing janitors for the starring roles gives Hines plenty of opportunities for comedy. Mops and her team usually solve problems by relying on their ability, as a cleaning crew, to move around unnoticed, as well as their intimate knowledge of dirt, poop, bodily fluids, food service, and cleaning supplies and equipment. There were a few times that I thought the plot was a little silly or repetitive (in terms of the way the crew solved problems), but generally I thought it was entertaining.
There are a few serious moments that I would have liked to see extended, such as when the janitors wonder whether they are really humans or whether they are just aliens who’ve been handed a human culture. There’s also a good opportunity to address stereotype threat in an interesting way because the aliens have told the humans that they are not very intelligent and the humans believe it, which lowers their self-esteem and self-efficacy.
I listened to the audiobook edition of Terminal Alliance which was published by Tantor Audio and read by Rebecca Mitchell. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about it, but I thought Mitchell’s performance was stiff and didn’t effectively bring out Hines’ sense of humor. If I had read it to myself, I might have found it funnier than I did. I will read the sequel, Terminal Uprising, in audio format because Tantor Audio sent it to me. Often audiobook performances improve in the second volume as the reader gets to know the characters and gets the hang of the author’s pacing and, in this case, sense of humor. I hope that will be the case here. I should note that most reviewers at Audible disagree with me about Mitchell’s performance so, if you’re thinking of listening to this book in audio format, I suggest listening to a sample first.
In print form, Terminal Alliance was published by DAW, which I suppose is why the spray bottle in Mops’ hand on the book’s cover seems to be advertising DAW’s logo. Cute!
This sounds like a great diversion! And I love the inclusion of the DAW logo on Mops’ bottle.
I’d reading this right now in fact.
Let us know what you think, Marion.