(Note: No spoilers).
I was thrilled when I heard a few weeks ago that Steve Umstead had a prequel in the making for his popular and captivating Evan Gabriel scifi adventure trilogy. There’s always that element of sadness when a series comes to an end, so when Zero Point popped up unexpectedly on the literary horizon, I was eager to get my hands on it.
I wasn’t disappointed. Gabriel: Zero Point, a novella, gives us the story of how a young Evan Gabriel came to be initiated into the dangerous and Machiavellian futuristic world of Naval Special Operations. (Keep in mind here that the Navy isn’t restricted to the Seven Seas. In Umstead’s world, the Navy is charged with projecting military power throughout the reaches of space). While in the Evan Gabriel Trilogy we were able to see the kind of brutal threats that thrive in the universe, in Zero Point we get to see what would make our protagonist embrace the harsh and often sacrificial life dedicated to combating them.
Just as important as the solid plot delivered here, this prequel installment of the Gabriel story is filled with Umstead’s signature elements that bring his characters and his universe alive. The protagonists are relatable, and the futuristic world is believable in a smart, entertaining sort of way. The technology in the story is cool, high tech, and somehow plausible. Combine this with the small unit tactical action that has become a hallmark of the series, and you get an immensely satisfying novella.
Great work on this. Now that a precedent has been set, I hope we can see other expansions on the Gabriel Universe.