by Toby Frost
Publisher: Myrmidon Books Ltd (12 Aug 2013)
Attention! Isambard Smith and his loyal and noble friend, the psychopathic alien headhunter Suruk, are back in a fourth laugh-out-loud installment.
In the 25th Century the future of the galaxy rests on a knife-edge. The actions of one man could save the British Space Empire, or leave Earth at the mercy of deadly legions of ant-people. That one man is Captain Isambard Smith, and Earth is in a lot of trouble. After blowing up a top-secret enemy base, Space Captain Smith and his crew deserve a rest. But their holiday ends when forces unknown destroy the robot convoy they were meant to be guarding. Smith finds himself in hot pursuit of a mysterious vessel that can pass through dimensions, incurring the wrath of the dreaded Grand Witchfinder of New Eden--which would be much easier to deal with if his pilot wasn't cowering under the dashboard and his spaceship wasn't infested with man-eating toads. Meanwhile, the Empire is gathering its allies to form a united front against alien tyranny. Unfortunately, the delicate negotiations have been entrusted to Major Wainscott, a man who knows no fear and very little about diplomacy or trousers. Once again, Captain Smith must summon all his courage to unite humanity behind the Empire. His quest will take him on a journey to face his greatest fears: from the depths of space, through Hell itself--and even to France.
CHARACTER PROFILE: Suruk the Slayer
Wit, philosopher, man-about-town: Suruk the Slayer is none of these things. He is instead six-feet-five of greenish-grey alien warlord, and the closest thing he has ever got to sophistication is chopping the head off someone who happened to be wearing a top hat at the time.
Suruk is a warrior of the M’Lak, a species with whom the Space Empire once had an entirely ineffectual war. Now, in return for fighting the Space Empire’s toughest and most dangerous enemies, the M’Lak are allowed to fight the Space Empire’s toughest and most dangerous enemies, an arrangement that satisfies everyone. Suruk himself first encountered Isambard Smith during Smith’s gap year. They met shortly after Suruk, along with most of his clan, had stormed the fort which Smith was failing to defend. Impressed – or possibly just amused – by such reckless bravery from someone with neither mandibles nor tusks, Suruk decided not to take Smith’s skull, and the two have been best friends ever since.
In return for the chance to see the galaxy on board the John Pym, and the occasional loan of bail money, Suruk has fought beside Smith many times. Suruk approves of Smith’s toughness, moral fortitude and lack of emotional expression (except righteous anger). In return, Smith considers Suruk to be a nice chap, despite all the mayhem, and, for an alien, surprisingly good at not making a fuss. Suruk’s needs are few, except for whetstones with which to sharpen his spear and industrial quantities of Mr Shiny to polish his skull collection.
The addition of Polly Carveth and Rhianna Mitchell to the crew has caused Suruk some trouble, on the basis that the strong are strongest alone and that girls just giggle and spoil things. Although he regards Carveth as feeble and cowardly, Suruk has a degree of affection for her, since she is short enough for him to rest his elbow on her head. Rhianna unsettles him, though, partly through her psychic powers and also through her belief that violence doesn’t solve anything (Suruk believes that violence solves everything). Suruk himself can testify that evil can only be thwarted by giving it a sharp blow in the mandibles – honourably, of course.
By day a mild-mannered representative of the UK legal system, by night a hard living, hard drinkin', whoring and gambling stereotype of a driven artist, Toby Frost is everything a writer should be: thoughtful, articulate and incapable of retaining technical information for more than 5 seconds.
What's more he is that rare thing, a writer who actually got round to writing something. Sadly, nobody wanted to publish it, so he wrote something else.
The "something else" then sat in a kitchen cupboard in Newcastle upon Tyne for three months before being plucked from obscurity by Myrmidon Books, a fine and upstanding publisher if ever there was one. Thus was Space Captain Smith born.
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