Stranger Bedfellows Review
A good television series season will usually end on a high note, leaving you feeling good about what you watched. A great television series will end their season on some sort of a cliffhanger or major (shocking) reveal that will keep you talking about what happened until the next season comes along to provide you with the answers (and also more questions). Eric Michael Craig has captured the emotional rollercoaster of a great television series in book 5 of his Wings of Earth series. Stranger Bedfellows is billed as the end of “Season 1” of his series, and Eric hits all the right feels with this season finale.
Captain Ethan Walker and crew are enjoying some well-earned R&R on the paradise world of Escabosa. Relaxing on sandy beaches, underwater excursions, and HALO jumps from the edge of space. Everything a hard-working freighter crew needs to relax, especially after the things the crew of the Olympus Dawn have been through lately. But in a strange encounter with mysterious businessman Ethan learns that another colony has gone missing. Soon enough the vacation is over, and Ethan and crew are thrust back into the fray and into a tenuous alliance with a pirate captain that had previously had the Olympus Dawn in his sights. Captain Walker wants to learn about the missing colony, and working with Captain Jetaar seems to be the only way to get answers, but Ethan isn’t sure if the price Jetaar is demanding – access to an ancient Tacra Un archive – is worth learning the truth.
The simplest thing I can say about Stranger Bedfellows is “wow”. My more involved response to this season finale is that Stranger Bedfellows turned the world of Ethan Walker and his crew upside down, shook them like they were in a martini mixer, then poured them out into a totally new reality. I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, but lets just say that by the end of this season so many things have changed for Ethan and the crew of the Olympus Dawn that they are just as stunned as the reader is by the events that have happened. And I love it! Eric has done a masterful job of drawing a larger story arc out across this five-book season and ends it with a shocking conclusion that makes me immediately want to pick up book 6 and see what happens next. This is great storytelling. Throughout the series we have watched Captain Walker be changed and affected by the events around him, often times feeling like he’s been swept along by a great river and seems to be drawn along, unable (or rarely) able to control what has been happening. In Strange Bedfellows Walker gets that control, though at a cost that might have been too great. There are still many unanswered questions, and a looming threat that Walker and crew barely understand, but it is so gratifying to see Walker begin to exert his own control on the situation he has found himself in. This is excellent character development and I have enjoyed watching it happen.
Eric Michael Craig is a master storyteller, and Stranger Bedfellows provides a wonderful conclusion to this first season in the Wings of Earth series. Filled with action, shocking reveals, and an ending that will leave you shocked, stunned, and also laughing just a bit, this is a fantastic read for any fan of hard sci-fi and space opera.