One of the modern masters of space opera sci-fi, Frank Kennedy has been fervidly unwinding his kaleidoscopic universe, The Collectorate. A new series entitled Beyond the Impossible, recounting the dying days of the once-ruling Chancellors, kicked off a fresh heroine, high-class, smart, determined Kara Syung. In “The Splinter Alliance,” Kara finds herself zooming through space to a remote planet in the company of an elite corps of soldiers from another universe; terrorists from her home planet; her uncertain ally, ex-Chancellor Ham; and an immortal warrior. Searching for clues toward the Inventor, a seemingly lunatic engineer with a terrible weapon, their sojourn on the planet plummets into a deadly chaos of intrigue and betrayal. Even more than in previous Collectorate novels, The Splinter Alliance is more about the labyrinthine politics and war strategies and sciences of the time, and the author weaves a wonderful concoction of world-building. The dialogue is whip-smart, the spaceship and planetary settings are alternately kaleidoscopic and evocative, and the plot is a rollercoaster. Buckle up: the series is superb and The Splinter Alliance is a joy to read.