Now and again, we enjoy living vicariously through the adventures and misdeeds of good-hearted scofflaws. Sometimes, we even imagine ourselves as those Robin Hood types, breaking the rules for the greater good of the downtrodden and oppressed (while I mention how much I love the show Leverage). And sometimes, we just wanna be the outlaw, and get a little something one time to make our lives a little bit better.
Off Rock falls in line with those types of stories, with the hard put-upon protagonist stumbling on an opportunity to make his life a little bit easier, without really hurting anyone at all. Here we have Jimmy Vik, a blue-collar guy who’s been breaking rock (and his back) for the mining companies for 20 years with no upward career trajectories in sight, when he discovers a missed vein of gold in an asteroid being cleared and prepped for final demolition. Time to come up with a plan to extract the gold and smuggle it out! After all, it isn’t like anyone knew the gold was there, and the corporation isn’t going to miss it if they never knew about it, right?
Of course, being basically a good guy, Jimmy’s not quite sure of the best ways to embark on a criminal endeavor and get out clean, and that means recruiting partners who know how to get such things done. That leads to back-channel handshake agreements, double crosses, back-stabbings, and a variety of trust issues and backup plans. Which is where the real fun in the caper tales start to unfold… how does the good guy get out of the mess he got himself in to, and still keep his life, the gold and the girl?
Kieran Shea has written a fun roller coaster ride of a story, one that makes me wonder what could be done if someone made a movie with a story like Heist, The Score, or even Snatch but in a scifi deep space setting. The potential is fun to think about, but unless we’re talking a lower budget indie, I don’t see Hollywood taking a chance on a movie like that any time soon.
Until then, we’ve got the book.
In the year 2778, Jimmy Vik is feeling dissatisfied.
After busting his ass for assorted interstellar mining outfits for close to two decades, downsizing is in the wind, his ex-girlfriend/supervisor is climbing up his back, and daily Jimmy wonders if he’s played his last good hand.
So when Jimmy stumbles upon a significant gold pocket during a routine procedure on Kardashev 7-A, he believes his luck may have changed—larcenously so. But smuggling the gold “off rock” won’t be easy.
To do it, Jimmy will have to contend with a wily criminal partner, a gorgeous covert assassin, the suspicions of his ex, and the less than honorable intentions of an encroaching, rival mining company. As the clock ticks down, treachery and betrayal loom, the body count rises, and soon Jimmy has no idea who to trust.
Off Rock by Kieran Shea
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Titan Books (April 18, 2017)