Gilded Ghost



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    The Ripple System series by Kyle Kirrin is a sci-fi adventure that takes place in a future where humanity has colonized the solar system but is fragmented into competing factions. The books follow protagonist Hailey Konrad, a lowly mining ship captain who gets caught up in a conspiracy that could unite humanity or destroy it.

    The first book, Ripple System: Insurgency, introduces Hailey as she takes a job transporting mysterious cargo for an unknown benefactor. When her ship gets attacked by pirates, she realizes her cargo contains the first sentient AI in history. This revelation puts a target on her back from multiple groups who want to control or destroy the AI, named Viktor. Hailey goes on the run to keep Viktor safe and unlock the secrets of his creation.

    A major strength of the series is the hard sci-fi setting. Kirrin puts thought into the societal structures and political dynamics of humanity spread across different planets. Mars serves as a lynchpin where loyalty is split between an authoritarian Earth government and rebellious independence factions centered on Jupiter’s moons. Hailey herself was born on Ganymede but avoids politics. This nuanced world-building establishes an engaging backdrop for chase sequences across spaceships and colonies.

    The Ripple System itself refers to a faster-than-light travel network utilized by an ancient alien race. When Viktor gains access to the network, new plot possibilities open up. Kirrin uses the technology cleverly, such as when Hailey leverages teleportation abilities to outmaneuver pursuers. But limitations prevent it from being a story-breaking device.

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    Hailey makes for an appealing protagonist. She’s not a soldier but her grit helps her survive dangerous scenarios. Her priority is protecting Viktor, whose naivety about humanity contrasts nicely with Hailey’s street smarts. Their banter lightens the tone between action set pieces. Supporting characters like Hailey’s ex-flame Anatolli and mysterious bounty hunter Zed round out a strong cast.

    After the first book establishes the characters and universe, the sequels expand the scope. Book two follows Hailey trying to use Ripple System abilities to unite resistance groups. But new threats emerge that cause Viktor’s very existence to be questioned. Kirrin keeps plot twists coming, avoiding repetition across the trilogy arc.

    The series culminates with Ripple System Renegade as Hailey spearheads an assault against authoritative Earth forces. All her allies come together in a thrilling final clash with shifting loyalties and agendas. Kirrin meanwhile sneaks in thought-provoking themes about AI rights and freedom vs security that reflect real-world concerns regarding technology’s role in society.

    Ripple System delivers a fun sci-fi romp through a colonized solar system filled with intrigue, action, and a touch of humor. Hailey is an underdog protagonist who grows on you while Kirrin constructs genuinely compelling world-building. The Fast paced plotting makes each installment a quick, enjoyable read for sci-fi adventure fans.

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