Phobos, May 2004, 14.95, 381 pp.
In the far distant future three percent of Earth's energy come from the gas mines above Io, Jupiter's volcanic moon. The harnessing of energy is the work of the Furnaces which is the brainstorm of Kingston who created a powerful empire in which he and his wife are the king and queen. During the Push, a war was fought to wrest control of the mines from Kingston but he and his allies were victorious.
To prevent another successful assassination during the war he created Ringers, surgically transformed men to serve as Kingston's bodyguards. The system worked and the empire thrived until an assassin was able to slip past the guards and kill the king and take control. The ringers and Kingston scatter and claimants to the empire want the king to stay gone for twenty days for that means he will be officially declared dead with his empire to go to the most powerful claimant. Horracks and his pregnant wife Sari, once bodyguards to the royals, are asked to find the king before the time is up. They do not know that Kingston's illegitimate children and an old enemy working for rival business man want them to fail.
Adam Connell debuts with an excellent future world tale in which business rules and sabotage and assassination are the order of the day. COUNTERFEIT KINGS is not a happily ever after tale but it is a realistic one as business rules the galaxy. There are many villains in Mr. Connell's story that readers will love to hate more than they will love the protagonist, a man who doesn't even know what his best option is in the coming war. Counterfeit Kings is a mesmerizing, action-packed and riveting work of science fiction.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner