RogerBW's Blog

The Accidental War, Walter Jon Williams 24 August 2020

2018 space opera, fourth book (first of a new trilogy) of Dread Empire's Fall. Seven years on as the empire tries to recover after the civil war, things start to fall apart all over again.

And as in Last First Snow there's a dreary drumbeat of people trying to do the right thing, and it not working. This is after all the first book of the trilogy, in which Things Get Worse; in particular, Williams has a deft touch with repeatedly making the sensible thing to do, indeed the only thing to do, lead to the worst possible outcome.

All right, just at the moment I don't particularly want to read about polities getting taken over by mob-raising populists in spite of the best efforts of everyone else. Nor about a very 2008 financial crisis which becomes the excuse for doing so. It's all very well to steal from history with, presumably, the theme that history repeats itself; but that's just a bit too recent, a bit too obvious, to be enjoyable.

(And in this ultra-tech world they still X-ray your baggage but they don't have explosives sniffers.)

As in the previous trilogy, there's a lot of setup and waiting for things to get worse. And I think I'd rather have had no trans characters at all than one who's constantly described with reference to the "act" she's putting on as a woman and her remaining masculine characteristics.

There are some solid set pieces, particularly towards the end, and I'll read the next volume when it comes out, but I don't think I'd have been enthused if this had been the first of the series that I'd read.

(Later Roger: four years later I still haven't sought out that next volume.)

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