Commanding the Red LotusCommanding the Red Lotus
Year: 2016
Author: R.J. Sullivan
Length: 236 pages


Not so much a novel as a collection of three novellas, Commanding the Red Lotus is your standard sci-fi space story. Unfortunately, because these novellas are collected together in this way, it feels like an attempt to string them together to make a novel. If this were a novel, it should have started with the third novella and expounded from there. After all, most of the backstory was mentioned or alluded to in this third story, so more pages could have been spent exploring the dynamic of the spacecraft crew. As it stands, there were a lot of characters mentioned that I couldn’t tell you a thing about.

When it comes right down to it, I have two issues with this book. The first is the main character. I feel the main character should have been the pirate captain, mainly because she had such an interesting backstory and an entertaining personality. Instead, the reader is stuck with rich girl Sayuri Arai. I would have much rather Sayuri been a highly educated woman who knew how to run a ship but kept finding that the realities of doing so were not covered in any textbook. As it stands, Sayuri is just annoyingly incompetent and seems to just get by on sheer luck.

Secondly, the choice of making the eponymous vessel a mining ship, and an extremely aged and practically out-of-service one at that, I felt was misguided. The blurb on the cover compared these stories to Firefly, and I could see where the comparisons would be made. However, in these moments, the stories felt just like any other cliché sci-fi story. If you took away the outer space aspect to this story, it would just be about a mining vessel. I don’t know if I would pick up a book like that since it sounds pretty boring (ha ha). Consequently, the size of the crew seemed too big to really get to know each of their characters. The ones we do meet don’t seem to use much logic either, but maybe that’s because of their Commander.

An OK collection of sci-fi novellas with lots of illogical characters, I give Commanding the Red Lotus 2.5 stars out of 5.

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