A Modern Space Opera – Lon E. Varnadore’s Junker Blues

There is sci-fi and then there is a space opera. What distinguishes the two is the unique depth and breadth of immersion that a true space opera offers.

Lon E. Varnadore’s Junker Blues is one such novel. Readers will find, from the very beginning, something unique in Varnadore’s storytelling. No stone is left unturned to create an unparalleled world of realism, rich in its immersiveness.

Consider what earth’s solar system alone holds. Humans live both on Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa, both with their own distinct cultures. They’ve also been scattered out to the Belt, which is home to the Alters, mutants capable of shape shifting.

If that doesn’t sound expansive enough, two alien races are added to the mix – the Crawl and the Endari. The Crawl is an alien race that came to Earth’s system bent on destruction, a zombie-like race that can replenish their numbers by biting another race and infecting them. The Endari are a race that arrived in time to help humanity fight off the Crawl.

While initially seen as almost godlike saviors, the Eridani have since moved into the system permanently. Are they truly the saviors they seem to be? A human slave of the Eridani becomes disillusioned with their hold over humanity. That human is Marcus Redding. Unfortunately, Marcus needs a way to leave Mars if he is to be free. So, he steals a ship from his previous master, renaming it the Junker Blues, thus setting up where the story begins.

On the subject of races, it would be remiss not to mention as well the Ilas, a genetically engineered race the Endari thought to replicate as their own servants. However, that plan went entirely awry when the Ilas rebelled and destroyed the very facility which created them.

This is the world in which our sometimes hapless, but generally well-meaning, professional spaceship salvager (“Junkologist” in Marcus’ preferred term) has to navigate.

At times mystery, at times comedy, Junker Blues is always an action story. If you’ve been searching for a story with the expansive vision of an Asimov or Tolkien created world that moves at the speed of an action/adventure, then Junker Blues is exactly what you want.

A self-professed devotee of both the sci-fi and fantasy genres, Varnadore’s space opera manages to give both in one story. You’ll even find a bit of mystery noir in the mix. Even Varnadore himself has trouble trying to encapsulate what Junker Blues is when asked. Like asking Frank Herbert or Isaac Asimov to distill their own greatest works into a few sentences, it simply isn’t possible.

To understand this book, you’ll simply have to read it. Fortunately, that is a joy in itself. Space opera it might be, but our protagonist has enough character, grit, and wry humor to give Indiana Jones a run for his money. Whether Marcus will make it to the end of any day is up for grabs, but you’ll be drawn to follow him to its conclusion nonetheless. Find on Amazon.