Monday, May 17, 2021

Review: The Risks of Dead Reckoning by Felicia Watson

Genre: Space Opera


This is the third and final part of Watson’s trilogy about the Uniterrean space ship Lovelace and her crew.

Amazon’s description says: “The Lovelace is ordered to respond to a distress call from unexplored space, and from a crew who all died 200 years ago. What they find is not only amazing, but potentially lethal. If Lt. Decker is going to make it down the aisle, she will have to survive the dangers of planet Tolu first.”

It “harkens back to the classic science fiction of Asimov, Clarke and Herbert, but with the richly developed characters of a Roddenberry-esque story.”


Felicia Watson started writing stories as soon as they handed her a pencil in first grade. When not writing, Felicia spends her time with her darling dogs, her beloved husband, being an amateur pastry chef, swimming, and still finds time for her day job as a scientist.”

"She’s especially drawn to character driven tales, where we see people we recognize, people who struggle with their mistakes and shortcomings, acknowledge them, and use that knowledge to grow into wiser human beings.”


It is the 31st century. In the middle book of the trilogy the Uniterraen space ship Lovelace, was repurposed from a military vessel to a ship of exploration. The substantial crew consists of the main character, Lieutenant Naiche ‘Deck’ Decker, her captain father, her fiancĂ©, her colleagues and friends and others who she probably just nods to in the corridor. This crew has been together a long time now and has become an efficient, well-drilled unit. It is also free of the angst that was evident in the first two books, as ‘Deck’ worked out her various issues with her father, authority in general, and her love life. This is conveyed without losing the seat-of-the-pants excitement that made the first two books such a pleasure. New characters supply the mis-steps that create the drama (at the heart of which we still find ‘Deck’, ‘Kai’ and ‘Con’).

Watson has a lot of fun working up Lovelace’s investigation of the distress call. The way the crew evaluates the paradox is deft. During their attempts to help, they find a couple of invisible worlds: Watson is a scientist, and knows how to build a good world, or two. There are humans and other species involved who have never heard of Uniterrae. It is with these that the conflicts reside which drive the book.

The heading of each chapter with an apposite quote is carried through this final novel: these continue to enrich the material which follows.

This is the shortest book of the three. It gallops along. ‘Deck’ and ‘Con’ her team leader continue to get themselves into scrapes, but in this book they act on actual plans that have received some thought and probing for weaknesses (until they go wrong, which they always do of course). In between missions (for which read adventures) there is a lot more introspection than in the previous volumes. Some of the younger crew members, with partners on Lovelace, begin to wonder about the logistics of having children: some of the older crew begin to ponder retirement, or at least a change of career. Here Watson shows her skill at developing character driven tales, as well as convincing Trekker-type space opera. Watson asks important questions of her cast. The downtime is not overdone.

By the end of the book, however, the major players have their stories tied neatly with a bow. I found it quite hard to slow down to that pace after the page-turning adventure that had come before. But this is, of course, life: one cannot go on saving the universe forever. At some point one has to learn how to change that diaper, or accept that desk job. Or, possibly, both.

I shall miss the crew of the Lovelace. I wonder where Watson’s imagination will take her next? I look forward to following her on the journey wherever she goes. She is a fine writer, with an empathetic heart, and that good scientific background.

You can enjoy this book as a standalone. But I recommend reading all three, in order.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

I was working from an ARC, cannot comment on what of the few typos and clunks I came across may have made it into the published book.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Judi Moore

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

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