With this collection The Cassidyverse equity is very much Into The Black


Published on April 18, 2022

Genre: Science Fiction/LGBTQ Fiction

BLURB: Kendra Cassidy’s dream was to drag humanity to the stars. Along the way, she invested her fortune, her sweat, and her blood to make the Terran Federation real. But she wasn’t the only one; her crew struggled alongside her to bring it to life. These are their stories, in all, eleven tales of bravery, love, creativity, and…staplers?

WHAT THIS BOOK DOES WELL: For those of you who have read enough of my reviews here and elsewhere you probably know I have an affinity for 4th wall breaking but Adam takes that concept and turns it on its head right from page 1 in this book and I loved every sentence of it. Now to be fair, this technique only appears in one of the 11 stories but it just so happens to be the 1st one so right from the jump you know you are about to hit warp speed and be in for an experience you haven't had before. I also like it's unique to the rest of what we are about to get but still maintains a tone similar to everything else we are about to read. Throughout there is a sense of clever banter that brings about some nice bits of humor, humility, and raw emotions. There is equally a nice frame of great set-ups and great imagery that enhances our reading experiences. So from
"Magic for Skeptics" on, even though you get a more conventional storytelling style these stories are anything but conventional. What I really appreciate, having dabbled very little into the Cassidyverse before this, was I never felt lost, I never felt out of the loop, and in fact, I often felt so astonished at how much I gleaned from story to story and the little clever tie-ins that accompanied many of the different perspectives experienced throughout. The writing is stellar, and the intelligent way in which Adam chooses to speed up or slow down is oftentimes dictated by the placement of each story within this collection but moreover dictated by the impact that each ending leaves you with. Adam is very good at setting you up and tying it all together not just from story to story but within each story itself. I like how Adam uses foreshadowing and plays off the character quirks to not exactly tell us everything but reveal so much. 

My favorite story here is "Recruiting Kendra". I really feel like I got so much from that one that I read it twice. This origin story really captures Kendra to the point where I can see her growth without ever knowing it exists. It also has some of the best establishing moments that shape not just the Cassidyverse but stories within this collection. I also love the way in which you get to experience a political/military ops system like Outlook and what that sets up for again not just this entire verse but within this book as well. 

Obviously, since I already talked about it  "Thrown For A Loop" which is the 4th wall-ish story I mentioned above is easily another stand out here. There is a very, very clever moment in this story that means a lot to another story so much further into the collection. I appreciate an effort like that because not only does it make you feel smarter but it might keep you "Into the Black" as it did for me because not all the stories hit for me in the way that the ones I loved did. 

I also really liked "The Martian Gambit" which tended to remind me a lot of a homage to Star Trek. I loved the action and the very cinematic way we become engaged in a civil discourse of galactic proportions. There are some real Captain Kirk/Picard level cleverness moments here that I appreciated. 

I love the combination of the origins of many of the crew you would find in the Cassidyverse, including Kendra herself, but I also love the aftermath of many decisions and actions that we are privy to here as well. Timeline jumping and fun anecdotal short snippets really round out a well thought out, well executed collection that absolutely sold me on my needing to jump into the Cassidyverse full force. 

Again the writing is so well designed and well represented here as to what might be in store if you do jump into the Cassidyverse and Adam Gaffen's writing. I think it will hook you if you are a big sci-fi fan too. There are so many little subtle and not so subtle references and homages that I am sure a savvy Science Fiction reader would really love. Not every story is a home run but I do feel like every story had some value to the ones I thought really knocked it out of the park. So the collection as a whole brings nothing but value to a universe already well defined, well crafted, and very vividly alive. I think this is a great way to invest some time into this universe if you haven't before and I don't think you will ever be lost, befuddled, or confused by doing so.