RogerBW's Blog

Call to Arms, Jay Allan 08 October 2022

2017 space-navy SF, second of its series. War has broken out in earnest, and Captain Barron and Dauntless are rushed out of the repair yard to join the desperate defence.

Well, what a shame. The first book had a lot of space-navy cliché in it, but it mostly maintained focus on the two ship captains, each trying to do their duty as they saw it. This time we have sprawling multi-viewpoint battles, and the unexpected but welcome developments in personality from that first book are just missing here. Instead it's space action and more space action: the delicate main weapons are broken until it's suddenly time for them to work, and flight deck controllers repeatedly say things will take twenty minutes only to be told to do them in ten. (Which is a great way to train your subordinates to pad their estimates in future.) Various equipment is run at 110% of rated capacity, and it never burns out.

Why are these two fighter pilots rivals? Nobody seems to know, not even them, but they can patch it up when it matters. The enemy are still Space Commies, complete with political officers, but it turns out they also have cloned slave-soldiers, and a huge mobile logistics outpost. (Yeah, Allan accepts that logistics matter, so that's good I guess.) A spymaster for Our Side fakes orders to get the nervous admiral out of the way so that the young aggressive admiral can take over, and gets away with it because Our Side's politicians are so corrupt that he can blackmail them… and apparently this is fine, or at least nobody seems terribly worried about it.

The battle scenes are lively enough, but the good guys have basically English-type names with very occasional exceptions and are mostly competent, while the bad guys have French-type names and are all about the political climbing and/or assassination, and there's nothing like moral subtlety to be found.

What impressed me in the first book was the tragedy of good against good, and Allan does not repeat that; this is merely by-the-numbers space navy fiction, and thus a huge let-down. I may read one more of these in case matters improve but I was sadly unimpressed by this one.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: Duel in the Dark | Series: Blood on the Stars

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1