Review: Lost Cargo, by Noah Chinn

Lost Cargo (Get Lost Saga, Book 2)
Noah Chinn
ISBN 9781990411182
328 pages
Release: November 1, 2023
Publisher: Independent

I don’t usually come to a novel series without having read the first, and it was likely my oversight that Lost Cargo was part of a series which may have swayed my opinion to the favourable. At this point that argument is moot, because Noah Chinn’s second installment in his Lost Saga series is a cleverly compartmentalized story, standing perfectly well on its own.

I also don’t come easily to a great many self-published books (yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy in this, being a self-published author myself) because they are so often disappointing, frustrating, just badly written, badly edited, bad, bad, bad.

Noah Chinn’s novel is none of these.

The marketing blurb reads thus:

Out of fuel and captured by pirates in his beat-up chimera of a ship, Maurice “Moss” Foote is having a bad day, until he gets a lead on the score of a lifetime. Easy pickings, if his crew doesn’t mind doing a bit of pirating themselves.

Moss certainly doesn’t. His ship’s computer, Violet, might. And his co-pilot, Hel, definitely will. But one tiny little lie might get them both on board.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Roy Herzog is having a worse day. He lost everyone he could stomach working with, then crossed paths with the Silver Legion, the very organization he deserted to become a pirate.

Unfortunately for him, the Legion does not forget, and does not easily forgive. But there might be a way out, and perhaps a shot at revenge against the pilot who nearly killed him.

A pilot who flies a chimera.

What Chinn delivers is a rocking good tale of hijinks, misdirects, foibles and fascinating concepts, a universe in which humans are pretty much relics, where their creations of hybrid human cyborgs, and synthetic humans, are the ruling species. There are mirrors of our present society in which ethnicities seek asylum. And the AI which Chinn introduces, while not entirely a new concept, is delivered in such a way to present a fresh take on the trope.

However, I’m sure there are colleagues of mine who are real scientists, who might baulk at what Chinn presents. All I can say is: forget the hard science. The writing is that crisp, the characters that believable if larger-than-life, irascible and often amoral, the plot so tight, that you won’t care about the hard science, or any number of minor points. It’s just a damned good read. And from me, I suppose that’s pretty high praise given I’m forever deconstructing and examining the craft behind a novel, the credibility of the world-building. There wasn’t a single moment when that editor inside my head whispered: oh yeah? And left me impatiently speed-reading just so I would be done.

As to the editing—well, it’s almost perfect. There were a very few minor copy-editing items of which any editor, any publisher, can be found guilty. And the layout was quite artistic, very top-drawer.

This is not high literature. What Lost Cargo is, is the best of escapist science fiction, the way it ought to be written. If you’re looking for that comfort-read while still tickling your brain, I highly recommend Noah Chinn’s Lost Cargo.