RogerBW's Blog

Bad Dog, Ashley Pollard 04 February 2018

2017 military science fiction, first of a series. Gunnery Sergeant Tachikoma is about to have a very bad day… repeatedly.

Disclaimer: I read this novel in its early form in 2014, and offered feedback. I also count Ashley as a friend.

Which is why I'll get the brutal bit out of the way first: the writing is horrid. Verbs don't agree with their subjects, sentences break apart and re-form half-way through, and every few paragraphs I'm pulled up by some new infelicity. It's always possible to work out what's going on, but it makes for brutal breaks in the flow of the story.

All of which is a great shame, because the storytelling is excellent. The primary viewpoint is Tachikoma's, and she comes over as a plausible person (though naturally very much in the Marine mindset). She finds herself in a situation distressingly like the one in Edge of Tomorrow – though I know that the first draft was done before that film came out – in that she's trying to resolve a situation, failing and getting killed, then finding herself starting again and trying to do better next time. Other characters, by the rules of this Groundhog Day game, can't get as much development, but are reasonably consistent as far as they go.

Worldbuilding is an odd mix of solid and thin: there seems to be a Confederated rather than a United States now in 2017, but nobody thinks about how we got from here to there. After what must have been a fairly wrenching change, it's odd that there doesn't seem to have been any modification of Marine or Navy practice and mindset from the present day. These Marines wear powered armour of the physically plausible sort, giving protection and enhanced carrying capacity but with the penalty of weight and limited power supply; but this isn't a book about how awesome powered armour is, it's a book about military people, emphasis on both words, dealing with an unexpected situation and trying to keep themselves and their buddies alive.

Good stuff if the writing doesn't bother you, and clearly there are many people whom it doesn't bother. To be followed by Strike Dog.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

Add A Comment

Your Name
Your Email
Your Comment

Your submission will be ignored if any field is left blank, but your email address will not be displayed. Comments will be processed through markdown.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming bookmonth chain of command children chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 existential risk falklands war fandom fantasy film firefly first world war flash point food garmin drive gazebo geodata gurps gurps 101 harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux mecha museum mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera perl photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha quantum rail ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel 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