Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the Space! It's the 18th century and the Royal navy with their wooden hulls and iron men is the primary power in space. Second Lt. Thomas Weatherby sets out on the HMS Daedalus to blockade the rebellious colony on Ganymede who challenges the empire. Meanwhile in another dimension, Lt. Shaila Jain of the Joint Space Command stationed on Mars in the year 2132 has the first in a series of bad days when mysterious quakes threaten the geological surveys of a cave and the lucrative mining operation.
Yep, you read correctly. Wooden sail-ships cross the empty space between the planets in the 18th century. Thanks to alchemy, they can keep air and gravity. Battles are still fought by shooting round shots at spitting distance though and humans settle on other planets and moons, sometimes encountering natives living there.
The HMS Daedalus has to deviate it's course when they encounter a french privateer, a murder and a renegade alchemist with a very sinister purpose. Luckily for Weatherby they pick up a female household member of the victim, so his education gains an additional angle. In best tradition of C.S. Forrester, Weatherby has to rise up to meet the standards of his beloved captain and navy.
Joint Space Command Lt. Shaila Jain has different problems. Her career dead-lined after being the sole survivor of a disastrous expedition, she is in charge of the safety of the Mars station in the 22nd century. And the safety becomes an issue once the first quakes start on a planet with no tectonic activity at all.
In the rubble of the cave she finds the 300 year old diary of a British officer whose experiences don't match the teachings her history classes. Little time there is to study it since she has to deal with sulky miners, corporate interest and the help weeks away. But study she must as the situation turns from strange over to worrying and outright terrifying when things go south.
This books offers two timelines where the reader starts with the conviction, that the author will never manage to intertwine those two. But he manages and some fun for the reader beside it. Not the usual space opera but a good read anyway. There are a lot of surprises and turns in the story and the question "What the hell is Michael J. Martinez smoking?" subsides... a bit at least.
Seemingly classic characters in a well written but unusual story prove a lot fun. I recommend to pick up this book on Amazon.