The merchant ship The Prayer has been lost in space for 4 years. Despite its advanced age and battered appearance, the Prayer has sustained it’s small crew during their empty wanderings. Yet with no idea of where they are or how to get back home, the reality of being adrift forever has begun to settle over the men and women of The Prayer. And they have come depend on their captain for his resolute and steady leadership.
But the Captain isn’t a robot; he’s as fragile and imperfect as the next man and the heavy weight of his responsibilities begins to weighh upon him. As he debates about whether or not to risk protocols by landing on a potentially inhabitable planet, the Captain and his men learn that can draw strength from one another and that doing so might just save them all.
I picked the Captain’s Men: Adrift because the novella’s blurb made me laugh – it sounded two shades shy of ridiculous and appeared to be little more than an erotic romp in space. And that’s exactly what it turned out to be. Now, please understand, I don’t mean this has a criticism. Some of my most enjoyable moments as a reader have been with fiction that borders on absurd. The Captain’s Men: Adrift never pretends to be what it’s not; you know right away what you’re signing up for and I love that! It’s not Shakespeare, but you never expected it to be. The writing is solid and without much flourish or unnecessary verbiage. There aren’t many bells and whistles here and that is as it should be – they wouldn’t add anything to the overall story so I appreciate the author’s straightforward approach.
Normally I try to discuss the plot and characterization at this point in my reviews, but the Captain’s Men: Adrift doesn’t really have either of those. A mixed crew of men and women (the latter of whom are almost non existent on page) are lost in space. That’s the story. Full stop. There are a few bits and pieces tossed in about the fact they’ve stumbled on a trio of possibly viable planets, but the author gives us only the bare bones. The only characters that seem to exist as anything beyond a name are the Captain and Echo, a mute Jack of all jobs aboard The Prayer. We’re never given fully formed pictures of either man, only a few nuggets of information that pique our curiosity. This does appear to be the first in a series so perhaps these characters are more fully explored in later volumes, though I wouldn’t bet on it.
Strangely, presuming (and yes, I know what they say about presumption, but I’m giving the author the benefit of the doubt here) the author intended this novella to be a fun bit of erotica, then this is actually its weakest area. There isn’t much passion between the characters and their sexual dalliances often read as awkward and not particularly inspired. More than a few of them take place off page, which ends up making the situations seem rather unnecessary. Sometimes the setups feel like something from Cinemax After Dark, without much depth and because there is no significant characterization to speak of, the scenarios tend to fizzle out.
Overall, I can’t really recommend Captain’s Men: Adrift because while it never promised to be more than a simple romp, it fails to produce enjoyable erotica or even passionate situations that might appeal to most readers. The plot is thin at best and the characterizations are negligible, which means there nothing here for a reader to sink their teeth into. This may improve as the series progresses but for now I’d have to suggest giving this one a pass.