RogerBW's Blog

A Pale Light in the Black, K. B. Wagers 31 May 2023

2020 military SF, first of a series. Max Carmichael, younger daughter of a super-rich family, is trying to get away from their influence. Meanwhlie the Near Earth Orbital Guard is just trying to keep space safe for honest travellers…

Yeah, the premise here is unashamed US Coast Guard in space. Which I can live with; at least it hasn't been overdone like US Navy in space. While there's some of the usual military SF angle here, and people are under orders, the overall theme is very much, and explicitly, about the found-family of a good crew as distinct from the birth-family one got away from.

There are two overall plots: preparation for the Boarding Games, which started as an informal competition for shipboard skills but has somehow now become the most popular sporting event in the world, and a criminal conspiracy which turns out to be much larger than the one slightly dodgy ship that started it all. The Boarding Games are the occasion for team-building, though I was a little surprised that only the hand-to-hand fighting element was covered in detail. (Only a complete idiot takes a gun aboard a spacecraft, so our not-Coast-Guard use swords and unarmed combat.)

The author is very clearly American. It's never questioned that the life-extending treatment (which also allows human activity in space, because it protects from radiation damage) is and should be the monopoly of a single corporation, or that various bodies do and should use the cost of the treatment as a way of stopping employees from leaving. All military people are Good. It's not clear what the Navy actually does, or indeed the Army or Air Force, what with the unified government and no aliens, but never mind, Coast Guard gotta be dumped on by everyone else.

You have to get into that mindset to enjoy the book, I think. Don't stop and ask why this military is good, or what it's for apart from being Space Cops; it's all about the found family. I managed this attitude control, and I enjoyed it.

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Series: NeoG | Next in series: Hold Fast Through the Fire

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 08:45am on 01 June 2023

    You might like Myke Cole's Sixteenth Watch, which has the Coast Guard in space as its central theme. The story is why the Guard is better than the Navy or military for these duties.

    I enjoyed this book, it was much better than his military fighting magic series.

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