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

Ain’t Nobody Got Spies Like Us

Sungrazer  (Outriders, book 2)

By Jay Posey  

5 Sep, 2017

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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Sungrazer is the second book in Jay Posey’s Outriders series.

The United States may be just one part of the pole-to-pole United American Federation, but Americans still have their own covert programs. One of them is SUNGRAZER, a stealth satellite orbiting ten million kilometers from Mars. SUNGRAZER is self-contained and self-directed. It collects useful data re the Martian colonies for the US; it can also deliver between fifteen to three hundred kinetic strikes, strikes ranging from simple block-busters to city killers. Which would terrify the Martians if they knew about it.

A decade into its long term mission, SUNGRAZER vanishes from American ken. Someone has taken control of the US asset, sending it off in a direction the Americans cannot detect, for a purpose about which they can only speculate. 

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The Prodigal Stranger

The Last Good Man

By Linda Nagata  

22 Jul, 2017

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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Linda Nagata’s 2017 The Last Good Man is a standalone milSF novel.

Four months after Fatima Atwan was kidnapped by El-Hashem’s Al-Furat Coalition, the US State Department has done nothing to rescue her. Fatima’s desperate father turns to military contractor Requisite Operations to do what the State Department either can not or will not do: save the young woman.

By law, Requisite Operations (RO) cannot deliver a ransom. What the law will let them do is attempt a foray into the chaos left after Daesh’s collapse, a foray to retrieve Fatima. Hussam El-Hashem1 may be a mere bandit using religion as justification for robbery and slavery, but he’s no idiot. Not only is his location secret, it changes on a weekly basis.

It would take extraordinary resources to find him. Luckily for Fatima, RO has those resources.

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Scrawled Upon My Soul

Raven Stratagem  (Machineries of Empire, book 2)

By Yoon Ha Lee  

18 Jul, 2017

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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2017’s Raven Stratagem is the second novel in Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series. The first novel in the series, Ninefox Gambit, was reviewed here. Readers are well advised to read Ninefox Gambit before reading Raven Stratagem.

The Hexarchate is far too sensible to rely on the obedience of soldiers with free will. Instead, every soldier of the Kel has no choice in the matter, thanks to formation instinct conditioning. To see a superior officer is to be compelled to obey them. It’s a system designed to make mutiny impossible. For the person wearing senior officer Cheris’ body, it means that taking control of the Swanknot shipswarm is merely a matter of establishing that they are the undead General Shuos Jedao. Once they believe they are confronted with a general with three centuries of seniority, the hapless soldiers have no choice but to obey.

By the time the Hexarchate’s rulers discover what Jedao has done, he and his little fleet are long gone.

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Peacekeeper, Take Your Time

A Peace Divided  (Peacekeeper, book 2)

By Tanya Huff  

3 Jun, 2017

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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2017’s A Peace Divided is the second novel in Tanya Huff’s Peacekeeper series.

War’s end means that many former soldiers are dumped back into civilian life. Not all of the veterans are suited to peacetime occupations. Some, like Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr and her team, find gainful employment as Wardens, the interstellar police of the Confederation. Less fortunate cast-offs, like Commander Yurrisk and his soldiers, become bandits and mercenaries. 

33X73’s natives vanished long before the Confederation was formed. Even at their height, they never got close to star-flight or Elder-Race-level technology. Why then did Yurrisk’s mercenaries attack and occupy an archaeological dig on 33X73

The fact that the attackers are drawn from both Confederation and Primacy forces is a clue. Though rivals, the two polities do have a mutual enemy: the so-called plastic aliens. 33X73 offers a unique opportunity to hit back at the enemy. 

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Follow, Follow

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps

By Kai Ashante WIlson  

16 May, 2017

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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Kai Ashante Wilson’s 2015 The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is set in the same universe as his A Taste of Honey (reviewed here).

Long ago, the gods fled Earth, leaving their mortal offspring behind. The demigods are too weighted by flesh to ascend, but have great powers in the mortal realm. 

One demigod, the Captain, uses his gifts to lead a company of mercenaries. Demane, also semi-divine, is one of his soldiers. Demane is hopelessly smitten with the Captain and follows him despite having no real taste for the life of a mercenary. His fellow soldiers are wary of him; they call him a sorcerer, even though he tries to conceal his gifts.

Both men’s gifts will be needed to get the mercenaries and the merchants they are guarding through the Wildeeps. Well, at least some of the mercenaries and some of the merchants. 

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Searching for Light

An Ancient Peace  (Peacekeeper, book 1)

By Tanya Huff  

26 Apr, 2017

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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Set in the same Confederation universe as her Valor novels, 2015’s An Ancient Peace is the first volume in Tanya Huff’s Peacekeeper series.

A covert op seems like a useful application of the skills of Torin Kerr’s elite squad … as well as a welcome distraction from the revelation that the war that killed so many was an enigmatic civilization’s science project. And it’s not as if the op is unimportant: the future of the human and other Younger races may depend on what it finds.

Archaeology sounds so harmless.

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A Thief in the Night

Going Dark  (Red, book 3)

By Linda Nagata  

15 Sep, 2016

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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2015’s Going Dark is the third and final volume in Linda Nagata’s Red Trilogy.

As far as the world is concerned, James Shelly died when his space plane was blown out of the sky. But he isn’t dead; he’s just gone undercover. He’s a member of ETM Strike Squad 7 – 1, an elite strike force formed to combat existential threats. 

7 – 1 is beyond covert, not listed in any official records, staffed by the officially dead, funded with a fortune stolen from a mad billionaire. Missions are selected by the enigmatic Red. In theory, all of them involve crises that could end human civilization. But there is a catch: 

The Red is not infallible. It is not all powerful. It is not even human. 

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Tell me why can’t I just reach up and simply touch the sky

Law of Survival  (Jani Kilian, book 3)

By Kristine Smith  

15 Aug, 2016

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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2001’s Law of Survival is the third novel in Kristine Smith’s Jani Kilian series. 

Jani Kilian has had a tumultuous life. Framed for a murder, cashiered from the service, doomed to life as a fugitive … but eventually she achieves a soft landing. She has been cleared of the murder and is no longer hiding from the law. Well, cleared of that particular crime. Life as a fugitive meant cutting a few legal corners. The smart thing to do would be to find some unobtrusive niche in which she can exercise her considerable bureaucratic skills1 and lay low.

But poor Jani is drawn, willy-nilly, back into human-alien conflict.

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Suh’s People

Outriders

By Jay Posey  

11 Jun, 2016

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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Although professional-game-designer-turned-SF-author Jay Posey has been publishing novels ever since 2013, 2016’s Outriders is the first novel of his that I have read. 

Given a choice between two very different career paths, Captain Lincoln Suh took the one that led him to join the 301st Information Support Brigade’s 519th Applied Intelligence Group. The unit’s name may seem to promise days of riveting paperwork and nights spent staring at glowing screens, but names can be deceptive, particularly in the intelligence game. 

Thus the suit of powered armour the 519 th issues Suh. 

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One of my tinfoil hat theories

The Ted Quantrill Trilogy

By Dean Ing  

2 Jun, 2016

Military Speculative Fiction That Doesn't Suck

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Dean Ing’s Ted Quantrill trilogy — 1981’s Systemic Shock, 1983’s Single Combat, and 1985’s Wild Country—is an odd relic of Cold War America. Many authors presented us with various versions of Cold Wars Gone Hot, but few took the tack that Dean Ing does in this series.

It’s not just that this is explicitly a sequel to someone else’s book, General Sir John Hackett’s The Third World War. Or that Ing teeters on the edge of inventing the technothriller genre (before Tom Clancy, if one considers The Hunt For Red October the first technothriller; please feel free to debate genre history in comments). Or even that one of the books features a lovingly depicted Segway, decades before those were invented. Ing brings an … ahem … unusual political sensibility to this trilogy. I believe that’s what has kept this series out of print. 

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