Tony Calanis Palermo had been a member of the clandestine Lunar intelligence service, but his misbehavior had caused his exile, and he found himself consigned to the role of able spaceman first class aboard a merchant starship. Unable to behave, he’s again caught, only now, he’s bound for long-term indenture on a sugar plantation—as much as a death sentence. There is, however, a way out. All he has to do is steal the key to the language of a long-dead race of Galactic aliens, and all will be forgiven. Piece of cake, right? Wrong! It seems that everyone else is also after the key, the Rosetta, that will unlock the technological secrets of the advanced alien race, and that everyone else is better armed, and all of them have Tony in their sights.
Rosetta by Stephen Patterson is space opera at its almost best. Riveting action, on the mark dialogue, and characters that, while you might not like them, you can certainly empathize with them.
A rollicking four-star weekend read.