A Voice in the Thunder
by Kevin McCormick

"'We are investigating a narcissist who has more money than God, who will be protected by every government with whom we must liaison.'"

In the far-distant future on the planet Kalisti, sickly babies like Atusa Navarro are usually left exposed to the elements to die—especially if they are girls with healthy younger brothers to replace them. But rich curmudgeon Klaus Skorzeny rescues her. However, she grows up to become a fantastically wealthy business tycoon and a terrorist devoid of mercy. Sufficient riches to buy the world only stir the adult Navarro's greed, driving her to steal a mysterious device that expedites interplanetary travel. Her avarice alienates Christmas Parker, her top criminal operative whom she recruits to execute the theft. Parker also plans to execute Horace Murchison, the government's enforcer for the Galactic Coalition, who killed four members of Parker's gang of thieves. Navarro, however, repays loyalty with threats and slaughter. Still, she's cunning enough to tempt Detective Ben Weizmann to give up his case against her in exchange for payment for treatments for his terminally ill son.

This is the first volume in author McCormick's five-installment series, Children and Ghosts. Perhaps unusually for the science fiction genre, this story does not include nonhuman beings among its cast of characters. Instead, the characters are fully human and have migrated from Earth to the various planets named in the book. The plot features two strong females who both rose from poverty. One of them, Parker, experiences a disability whereby she hallucinates unless she wears custom-made goggles. McCormick also frequently refers to God and elements of Christianity, a rare worldview in a genre that often either downplays religion or portrays it as harsh and corrupt. Additionally, Navarro's narcissistic arrogance in relation to her government connections has the potential to resonate with some who perceive that fault among contemporary political leaders.

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