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Reviews in Project: Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck (39)

Where the Spaces Are Wide Open

Persephone Station

By Stina Leicht  

28 Dec, 2020

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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Stina Leicht’s 2020 Persephone Station is a standalone science fiction novel.

The United Republic of Worlds would give legal status to aliens like Persephone’s enigmatic inhabitants. Maybe so, but the self-styled Emissaries prefer to remain private and hidden. Accordingly, they have traded certain services to Vissia Corsini in exchange for Corsini using her de-facto control of the Serrao-Orlov Corporation’s local branch to conceal the Emissaries’ existence. They have also permitted the corporation to claim ownership of their world. From the Emissary standpoint, that doesn’t seem like a problem; thanks to Emissary misdirection, humans believe they can’t survive unprotected on Persephone. 

The services they gave Corsini turned out to have an unfortunate catch. Corsini is pissed off and decides to take revenge. Her advantage: she controls Serrao-Orlov’s resources on Persephone and can certainly figure out ways to make the Emissaries regret their bargain. 


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Of Our Elaborate Plans

Victory Conditions  (Vatta’s War, book 5)

By Elizabeth Moon  

1 Dec, 2020

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

2 comments

2008’s Victory Conditions is the fifth and final volume in Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War quintology. 

Gammis Turek’s Deepspace Benevolent Association is very much at war with the local systems: if sabotage and acts of piracy did not prove this, their campaign of intimidating atrocities do. Simple self-interest would dictate that the independent governments coordinate their defensive efforts against a common foe. Regrettably, not only is there no local tradition of transnational cooperation, but some factions are convinced the DBA is not the greatest threat they face. 


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Paranoia is in Bloom

Command Decision  (Vatta’s War, book 4)

By Elizabeth Moon  

24 Nov, 2020

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

2 comments

2007’s Command Decision is the fourth volume in Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series. 

Having narrowly survived the previous adventure, Ky Vatta sets out to completely reshape interstellar politics. After all, if she does not do it, the Deepspace Benevolent Association — Team Evil! —most definitely will.

The various players split up so they can do more damage to the enemy. Because that alwaysworks.


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Our Darkest Deeds

Engaging the Enemy  (Vatta’s War, book 3)

By Elizabeth Moon  

17 Nov, 2020

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

1 comment


2006’s Engaging the Enemy is the third (and middle) volume in Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War quintology. 

The book begins where the previous one left off. Ky Vatta is rebuilding her family business, which was laid waste in the previous book. She has managed to acquire her father’s implant, which gives her intimate knowledge of the company (as well as of her father’s final moments before his death). She has defeated her evil relative Osman and has seized his heavily armed ship as spoils of war.

Her troubles are not over, not least because many governments do not accept as legitimate the murder hobo creed I killed him and then took his stuff.”


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Fateful Lightning

Marque and Reprisal  (Vatta’s War, book 2)

By Elizabeth Moon  

3 Nov, 2020

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

4 comments

2004’s Marque and Reprisal is the second book in the Elizabeth Moon series Vatta’s War.

Having successfully rebuilt her shattered career and defied mutineers, Ky Vatta’s troubles should be over. She should be able to look forward to the carefree life of a successful interstellar trader.

Aside from the whole interstellar war thing, that is. 


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When You’re a Stranger

Contact Imminent  (Jani Kilian, book 4)

By Kristine Smith  

29 Jul, 2020

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

4 comments

2003’s Contact Imminent is the fourth volume in Kristine Smith’s Jani Kilian quintet. 

Human-idomeni relations are troubled at the best of times. On the plus side, the idomeni now have an embassy on Earth, near the terrestrial capital Chicago. On the minus side, someone appears to have done a subpar job of ensuring that the property granted for idomeni use was properly prepared. Or so the landmines suggest.


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Ready or Not!

In the Black  (Intersection Space, book 1)

By Patrick S. Tomlinson  

4 Jun, 2020

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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Patrick S. Tomlinson’s 2020 In the Black is the first volume in his projected Intersection Space series. 

Peace has reigned between humans and the alien Xre for seventy years, ever since the end of the Intersection War. Now, as Captain Kamala of the Combined Corporate Defense Fleet Ansari is going to discover, the Xre appear to be interested in testing human resolve. 

CCDF Ansaris sensor drones are spread across the 82 Eridani system, ever vigilant for any sign of alien incursion. No threat to stakeholder interests will be overlooked. One might expect the end of the long peace to come in a flurry of fireworks. In this case, the first hint that something is up comes as silence. One by one, the sensor drones are falling quiet.


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Children of Empire

Cross Fire  (Exo, book 2)

By Fonda Lee  

12 Jun, 2018

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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2018’s Cross Fire is the second volume in Fonda Lee’s Exo series. 

While the crisis in the previous novel was successfully handled, that did not bring Donovan Reyes’s father back to life, nor did it resolve the fundamental problem of how to reconcile the Commonwealth’s strategic goals with Earth’s defensive needs. Earth is, after all, merely one of a great many worlds in the Mur Erzen Commonwealth and not a particular rich one. Defending it from the Rii could prove expensive. 

The zhree who invaded Earth have a simple, economically justifiable plan: abandon the Earth to their rapacious cousins. 

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Cause I Can’t Say No

Hullmetal Girls

By Emily Skrutskie  

2 Apr, 2018

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

6 comments

Emily Skrutskie’s 2018 Hullmetal Girls is a standalone SF novel.

Three centuries ago, a fleet set out from the Solar System determined to find a new world to replace the one they had squandered. Worlds sufficiently Earth-like to support a human population proved rare; to date the only one known is the previous, pre-trashed Earth. Generations after launch, the fleet has settled into a regimented seven-tiered society. Life in first tier, where the administrators live, is tolerable. Life in the impoverished seventh tier is short.

Having learned the hard way that heavy weapons are a poor way to maintain peace in an environment one hull-breach away from mass death, the ruling General Body has turned enforcement over to an elite force of cyborgs, the Scela. Conversion is dangerous, even for teens, and only highly motivated people volunteer to become Scela. Poverty-stricken Aisha Un-Haad, for example, is determined to earn enough to pay for her brother’s medical treatment and to keep her little sister out of the dye factory.

First-tier teen Key Tanaka could not tell you why she volunteered, although her reasons were likely not financial. Where her pre-conversion memories should be is a great blank. Whatever her reasons for submitting to the operation, they must have been compelling.


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Slack Your Rope Hangman

Exo

By Fonda Lee  

26 Sep, 2017

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

3 comments

Fonda Lee’s 2017 Exo is a standalone young-adult SF adventure novel. (No, this is not a review of Steven Gould’s Exo, even if my editor wishes it were.)

Earth is a colony of the Mur Commonwealth, a colony protected by its benevolent zhree overlords from their rapacious Rii cousins. Most humans, secure in their placid second-class existence, regard the brutal resistance that first met the zhree as a regrettable mistake. For the insurgents of the Sapience, the resistance is an inspiration.

Teenager Donovan Reyes is a loyal soldier for the zhree: an elite soldier, hardened with alien biotechnology. Donovan and those like him are charged with maintaining the peace in West America. His enhancements provide Donovan and his comrades with the durability, speed, and lethality required to protect the squishies,” as the soldiers deem the unenhanced humans, from their own worst impulses.

A moment of poor judgment lets the insurgents capture Donovan. Sapience’s policy is to brutally murder any soldiers they capture, pour encourager les autres. Donovan’s prospects are dim — or they would be if not for the fact that in addition to being a willing ally of the zhree, he is also the only son of West America’s Prime Liaison Reyes. Donovan has considerable hostage value.

The Reyes government does not negotiate with terrorists. 

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