RogerBW's Blog

Kilo Class, Patrick Robinson 17 August 2014

In the mid 2000s, China tries to buy seven Kilo-class diesel submarines from Russia. The Americans aim to prevent this. Meanwhile, something odd is going on at Kerguelen Island.

The Chinese plot is to use these submarines to deny American forces access to the seas off Taiwan, and then to reconquer that country. As before in Nimitz Class, Robinson is practically fetishistic about the ultimate superiority of the diesel submarine over any other sort of warship.

The plot doesn't always make a great deal of sense, with lots of gung-ho American independent action beyond even what George Bush Jr would have thought reasonable. (And yeah, I still think Robinson may have been parodying standard technothrillers; all the American navy men are built like linebackers, they all have beautiful wives, and so on.) Everything swings towards the American side, with just one Los Angeles attack boat and one SEAL team ending up destroying all the Kilos without loss to themselves. The bad guys don't even get a shot off.

Really what the book is about is not the plot, and certainly not the characters, but the series of technical set-pieces: a storm at sea, a submarine attack in the North Atlantic, some yachting, a SEAL operation, a submarine transit under the North Pole, and some more submarine attacks. Read at that level, it's great fun. It's a pity the characters are so sketched-in, but to be honest I'll take this over something that gets the technical details wrong but the characters right. (Better to leave out the tech completely if you can't get it right.)

Followed by H.M.S. Unseen.

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