Posts Tagged ‘military’

The Bastard Legion by Gavin G Smith

November 15, 2017 - 7:41 pm No Comments

The Bastard Legion
Author: Gavin G Smith
Published by: Gollancz, 5th October 2017
ISBN: 978-1-473-21725-6
322 pages
Reviewer: Ken Norman

The title is enough to make most teenage boys snigger, and I guess that is the point. It’s a book that seems to be aimed squarely at that young adult male sector of the market.
This space-war-opera revolves around a hard hitting, gun-toting slip of a girl called Miska who’s lost her Mummy and her Daddy’s a simulation, as he’s been toasted by persons unknown. She used to be a soldier in her youth, so she’s nicked a prison barge full of dangerous lifers and has decided that a mercenary’s life on the frontiers of the law is a winner, especially as barge has provided her with a private supply of grunts to send into conflict to die. If they don’t die quick enough, or look at her in a funny way, she blows their head off with a remote controlled neck collar. The problem is, she’s got a bit of an existential crisis going on, and worse, can’t quite work out what to call her band of brothers (they’re all dudes). Oddly, there’s almost no other women in the story, apart from the odd evil executive or about-to-be-cannon-fodder adversary. However, she’s going to kill a bunch of bad people and find out who killed her Daddy whilst getting paid for whatever mercenary activities can be found in the nearest G-class star.

There’s a voluminous whiff of fantasy here – mainly the authors’. Gavin Smith would appear to have a bit of a crush on Miska, as she’s a bit of a murderous villain, a bit vulnerable and a bit sexy all at the same time. She’s something of a superhero too, with a big bag of techy upgrades to her personal self. It’s the sort of universe where you’d hope humanity would have overcome some of the issues happening in the book, but you apparently never run out of the need for a printed AK-47, even when you’ve got FTL travel. If anything, there’s too much in this first volume – too many ideas about what’s cool, fun, possible (or not) all thrown into the pot to create a future world that’s not quite consistent.

It’s a fun read, if you like a good battle scene, or your inner male mental age has settled around 15. The fast and loose mix of ideas from left, right and centre is a bit confused, but that might settle down in the next installment. The book’s title tries to keeps you guessing right to the end, but in the end, it’s pretty obvious.

 

Roboteer by Alex Lamb

October 14, 2017 - 7:09 am No Comments

ROBOTEER by Alex Lamb. Gollancz, London. £8.99 paperback. 426 pages. ISBN: 978-1-473-20609-0
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.

There is a sub-set of science fiction which is Military SF and written by such exponents as David Weber and David Drake. I was once told that SF was Mills & Boon for boys (I converted that person by giving her Marge Piercy to read) and to a certain extent, that is what this kind of SF is. It is for readers who have a fascination for hardware and like to read about blowing things up.
Alex Lamb’s debut novel, Roboteer, is a well thought out, military space opera. In this very far future, Earth has succumbed to pollution and the mass of humanity lives mostly on the product of prote farms. The planet is united under the auspices of the Prophet of the Truist religion. Other faiths are tolerated but can never rise to ultimate status. As far as enlightenment is concerned, the clock has been turned back millennia. Girls are not educated and the mass humanity, the Followers are illiterate. Yet they are scooped up and sent to fight for their planet. The enemy are the Galateans. Initially human colonists, they have embraced genetic modification to compensate for lack of personnel and help terraform the colony worlds. By the decree of Earth’s spiritual leader this modification is an abomination in God’s eyes. Also there are no aliens. The reason for the war between the two factions is to wipe out the abominations and to acquire what is believed to be fertile worlds to feed Earth’s population. His Honesty the Prophet is mistaken on several counts.
The story is told from three points of view enabling the situation to be seen from both sides. Will is the Roboteer of the title. He is modified to be able to remotely control various aspects of the war ship including torpedoes and drones. He has a bit more initiative than the average roboteer but when he disobeys an order and saves his ship from destruction he is transferred to the Ariel. This has a six man crew and they are given a spy mission to try and find out where the new technology the Earthers have suddenly acquired comes from. Ira is the captain of the Ariel. The third view point character is the Earther scientist Gustav. The new suntap device is his project. He didn’t invent it. He acquired it from an alien artefact known as the Relic.
Ira is able to follow Gustav’s ship to the Relic but when they are discovered, the aliens hack Will’s mods and download information into him. Aliens do indeed exist and they are giving humanity a choice. It is up to Will to prove that humanity is not a disease that has to be wiped out.
The pace of this novel is relentless and the characters have to endure betrayal, despair and torture before a resolution is reached. For most readers, it will not matter that they are dumped into the middle of the action without any explanation as to how the situation has arisen. For Will and Ira, politics are for others, while Gustav finds politics thwarting him as he tries to do the best for his planet. These three are perhaps nobler examples of humanity and not enough space is given to the mistaken, politically ambitious or nasty characters that always exist in any society. These readers will not mind that the space ships can move between star systems at a tremendous rate or be able to visualise the technology. If they are fans of military SF, they will enjoy this.