Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Book Rave: War Dogs by Greg Bear

July 8th, 2015

I picked up this book when it came out last fall, but didn’t read it until a few days ago. During the interim, I didn’t hear a lot about it, and what I did hear wasn’t all that enthusiastic, so I was a little ambivalent at the start — but that ambivalence quickly vanished.

War Dogs is told in first person, in the voice of Master Sergeant Venn, a “skyrine” — a marine delivered by orbital drop to the Martian battlefield. So why are humans fighting a war on Mars? Because an enigmatic alien race known as the Gurus insinuated themselves on Earth, got the planet addicted to their highly advanced technology, and then asked us to fight a war for them against another alien race engaged in setting up a beachhead on Mars.

I’ll admit to a moment of “Hmm…” when I realized the slang for Mars is “the Red” and that soldiers utilize artificial intelligences called angels. After spending so much time in my own story world it felt very strange to hear those terms in a different context, but of course I quickly got used to it. And I really liked the narrative voice. Despite this, it took me a while to engage with the story and the characters — I’m not sure why — but by halfway through I was swept up in the action and after that it became a race to the end. And the end came in less than 300 pages! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a slow reader, so I really appreciate a “novel-sized” novel.

War Dogs is called military science fiction — and all but one of the primary characters are soldiers engaged in war — but the only battle comes late in the game. As a result, it feels more like a novel of exploration, discovery, survival, and the unraveling of physical, historical, and political mysteries. It’s the first novel of a series, so most of those mysteries remain to be explored. I’m looking forward to it. The sequel Killing Titan is scheduled to publish in October, but I’m already wondering if I can get my hands on an advance copy…

Posted on: Wednesday, July 8th, 2015 at 6:31 am
Categories: Book Rave, Reading.
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