RogerBW's Blog

The Red: The Trials, Linda Nagata 11 July 2020

2014 military SF, second of the trilogy. After the illicit mission in the last book, James Shelley and his squad are on trial. So, elsewhere, is the person they winkled out of their bunker. But other factions are still out there.

This is a world significantly changed by earlier events, even if many of the people in it haven't quite realised yet. (And some have realised but drawn incomplete conclusions.) Nagata draws that with great effect, using both the downtime and the nature of the missions that Shelley goes on to show how people are reacting to changes. If the first book suffered by having a too-obvious "bad guy" faction, here it's clear that there are rather more viewpoints than "right" and "wrong".

Though Shelley also has an implanted computer that's there to regulate his moods and run his prosthetic legs, and if one person has access to it… I thought that angle could have been taken further, but what's done with it here is solid enough.

This feels in some ways like a fixup of novellas than a single novel-length story, though as far as I know that's not the case. Things at the end have higher stakes than things at the beginning (and there's a fine example of Chekov's Parachute), but it's really a series of mostly-independent narratives. It's also a middle book, so the end is much more "and now other things are going to happen" than a real conclusion.

Characterisation still works, as long as you don't mind Shelley being a bit of an idiot. I found it a little wearing at times, but not too bad.

Don't start here. I read First Light three years ago and I could remember enough not to be lost, but there's not much recap for the newcomer.

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Previous in series: The Red: First Light | Series: The Red | Next in series: Going Dark

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