This will be the last of my posts about books I’m NOT nominating for the Planetary Awards this year. My plan is to finally make my nomination for best novel tomorrow, and for best short story on Thursday. Thursday night (Feb 14) is the deadline, so get your nominations in by then!
Rumors of War begins in a kinder, gentler North America, or possibly a North America with a shortage of available manpower. The main character beats up some pro-war protesters who get in his face, and to avoid jail time, he joins the Space Navy. The Navy even sends him to officer candidate school because he’d completed 3 years of college. After he gets his commission, he beats up one of the instructors at battleship training school, and his punishment is to be sent to smaller-ship training school instead. Some readers might call this whole setup “unrealistic”, but I prefer to think of it as world-building, setting up a different reality from our own.
The character ends up as the most junior officer on a frigate which has just been integrated into the Navy, after a small nation was absorbed into the federation/republic/alliance/whatever. He has a hard time because many of the sailors and officers are unhappy with the circumstances of being absorbed.
The frigate captures a pirate ship, and our hero is assigned as its prize captain. Before he can make it home, an enemy nation nukes the frigate, killing most of the crew either instantly in the explosion, or slowly through radiation poisoning. The hero has to take command of the frigate and operate it using his prize crew, the captured pirates, and some marines who were in a radiation-shielded area.
I gave this book four stars, which means I might go for the sequel later, but I’m not jumping on it right away. It had a shot at a nomination, but I had a more favorable impression of another novel.
I wasn’t quite as impressed with the first book in the Ghost Marines series, Integration. This is the story of one of the first aliens allowed to join the space marines of an interstellar human-run empire. To me, the story seemed to be too direct a copy of experiences black soldiers might have had in the 1950’s US military, right down to the alien marine going out on the town with a human woman and some hicks beating them up.
I also think this book will disappoint fans of space-marine action. The story is halfway over before the characters get out of basic training, and there are only two combat scenes, both very brief.
I know some of you out there are fans of military science fiction, because Legionnaire won last year’s Planetary Award for best novel. What kind of mil-SF have you been reading lately?