The latest issue of The BSFA Review (no.4, Summer 2018) has been published. It contains two of my reviews. The first one – of a pair of military sf novels by Bennet R Coles – is below. The second will follow shortly.
Bennett R Coles is a former Canadian naval officer. His first two novels (of a promised trilogy) are part of that military science fiction tradition that values “authenticity”. What that means, in this case, seems to be a fondness for three letter acronyms, recounting the petty frustrations of military life and detailed portrayals of brutal violence.
These books are set in a future where humanity has spread to planets around nearby stars and Earth is struggling to assert control over fractious colonies. In the first book a Terran task force, deployed as a show of strength in the Sirius star system, becomes the trigger for the start of a widespread rebellion and must fight its way home through enemy territory. Virtues of War follows the adventures of four core characters. Lieutenant Katja Emmes is the leader of a “strike team” of marines and scion of a military family who feels she has something to prove. Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane is the ambitious but weak commander of her ship, The Rapier. Lieutenant Charity Brisebois is The Rapier’s communication officer, but she is also a ruthless, driven, intelligence officer with a nastily Machiavellian streak. Finally, Sublieutenant Jack Mallory is a puppyish pilot trained in stealth warfare and, handily for the plot, a savant in advanced, exotic physics. In Ghosts of War, this cast of characters find themselves back on Earth, some struggling to cope with what they’ve been through, and discovering that their distant war has followed them home. Continue reading