One quibble I need to get out-of-the-way first. Despite the name Alexander Outland: Space Pirate, Captain Outland is not a Space Pirate. The book does have a Space Pirate in it (just in case you were worried), but Captain Outland and his crew are there to fight them (eventually), not turn into Space Pirates themselves. I’ve seen this book compared to the Stainless Steel Rat books and that makes a good comparison for tone and basic plot. Although not nearly as good as Harry Harrison, it is a fun read with a decent story. So, let’s see what happens.
Captain Outland and his crew are smugglers and they have to pick up a load of magma for their latest run. But they run into an invisible armada of Space Pirates who are trying to capture them. Fortunately Captain Outland is a terrific pilot, so he is able to escape and land on the closest planet of Herrion. But while getting onto Herrion is difficult due to the Space Pirates, getting off might be even more difficult. So Outland and his motley crew are going to have to fight, trick and sneak their way off planet, if only they can figure out how to get past the Space Pirates waiting for them. There are some factions within the Herrion that want Captain Outland to take on the pirates. Some are offering money and some are threatening his crew. But the smugglers credo is to survive before they worry about getting money.
Along the way, the crew grabs onto a foreign spy, a displaced military officer and a miraculous test military vehicle that magically has a bunch of advanced features that will help the Captain and crew in their quest to escape with their lives and get rid of the pirates if possible. Fortunately Captain Outland always has a trick (or seven) up his sleeve and seems to out think, out plan and out fly any one else in the system.
The book is a decent swashbuckling science fiction adventure with a plot that keeps moving forward at a breakneck pace. The characters are fairly stock with some decent relationships between them and a couple of secrets that come out later in the story. There are sexual undertones throughout the book (especially the relationship between the sexy Captain and the buxom weapons officer) including the crew’s nickname for the ship. The biggest problem with the book (besides a main character who can do no wrong) is the pacing. The book is 300 pages with about 80 chapters that are only a few pages each. That keeps the pace really frantic, but it breaks things up so much that it feels like you’re ending something right as you start it. That throws off the book and makes it too choppy. It’s not bad and worth reading, but it’s just a fun adventure story and nothing more. Mildly recommended.