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Literature / The Icarus Hunt

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The Icarus Hunt is a 1999 Sci-Fi novel by Timothy Zahn, of Star Wars Expanded Universe fame. The plot is as follows: Jordan McKell, a former soldier and current pilot/smuggler, is given command of the Icarus, a very odd ship with a ragtag crew and a mysterious cargo. His journey is plagued with problems, not the least of which are a saboteur and murderer on board and a widespread manhunt for him and his cargo.


Tropes associated with this series:

  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Patth's stardrive and the teleportation device the Icarus is built around.
  • Artificial Gravity: There's basically a switch that flips it on and off.
  • Batman Gambit: Jordan pulls off a couple big ones, including one on the Big Bad.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The Icarus and its crew get out of a few tough spots with a string of these.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When the rest of the crew show up to rescue Jordan.
  • Bio-Augmentation: The Patth implant bits of their control hardware into pilots so the drives can't be reverse engineered.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Ixil has two rodent-like "outriders" that can connect to his nervous system and share memories. The computer also has issues diagnosing him when he gets injured.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Kind of. Reflecting trends in technology at the time the book was written, Jordan has a do-anything communication device that in other sci-fi settings would have a fancy name, but here he simply refers to it as his 'phone'. Also, Ixil's two outriders are referred to as 'ferrets'.
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  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Of the Space Is an Ocean and Planetville variety.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Jordan. He will use anything and everything against his assailants including psychology, knowledge of alien anatomy, and his surroundings.
  • The Conspiracy: The hunt for Jordan and the Icarus is backed by a mysterious organization.
  • Death Glare: Tera gives lots of these to Jordan.
  • Driving Question: What does everyone want with the Icarus?
  • Energy Weapon: Jordan carries a "plasmic" and runs into aliens that carry "coronal discharge" weapons. The former shoots balls of plasma and the latter burns the target to a crisp with a burst of electricity.
  • Eureka Moment: Jordan has several through the course of the book.
  • Fantastic Drug: "Happyjam", which Jordan and Ixil have run for Brother John in the past. It seems basically like any contemporary addictive drug though, without any 'sci-fi-y' twists mentioned.
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  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Everyone has it; what's important is how fast.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Jordan calls for aid for The Climax, with The Cavalry being Kalirixi commandos who have nothing to lose by helping him.
  • Guile Hero: Jordan, full stop.
  • Impersonation Gambit: Jordan uses one early to get more information about his pursuers. The papers he gets help Nicabar set up another one later.
  • Improvised Weapon: Jordan threatens an alien with broken space glass.
  • Indy Ploy: Whenever Jordan isn't on the ship, he's doing this.
  • The Handler: Jordan gets two. At the same time.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Discussed in some of Jordan's internal commentary. It appears that kinetic weapons and energy weapons deal similar damage to people, but kinetic weapons are a bad idea on a ship where they can destroy equipment and cause hull breaches.
  • Half Truth: Jordan rarely tells the full story to anyone but Ixil.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jordan and Ixil. Many comments have been made that their relationship is like Han and Chewie's, without the life debt thing.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Almost all the aliens we see in this universe are more or less humanoid.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Ixil to Jordan, sorta. It turns out that Ixil is technically Jordan's superior officer, though their relationship is more one of partners.
  • Recycled In Space: The plot strongly resembles a cross between the Alistair MacLean novels When Eight Bells Toll (including the hero's boss being known as "Uncle Arthur") and Fear is the Key.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Jordan believes that Uncle Arthur uses these on his underlings. It doesn't really work over videophone.
  • Significant Monogram: Tera ends up having one once Jordan learns her full name.
  • Token Romance: Tacked on in the last two pages or so though it's understated. Unusually it doesn't feature the main character.
  • Twist Ending: Like pretty much every other Zahn work. Not to mention there are plenty of twists part way through the plot, too.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal


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