RogerBW's Blog

Black Run, Karen Traviss 17 November 2023

2017 military-adjacent SF, second of its series. Ian Dunlop the genetic experiment is trying to settle down to life with his new family, but not everyone has forgotten about him.

This is an odd book. The individual elements are solid, whether that's Rob and Mike tracking down people who are threatening them, or Ian and Rob's son Tom finding out how far they can live a normal life when they're all impossibly rich. I continue to like the people.

But it doesn't fit together into a coherent whole, and I think that's largely because all the good guys here are entirely reactive: they only do things in response to problems that have arisen. Fine, there are lots of problems so they aren't sitting around idle, but I expect my protagonists to show a bit more initiative, to have goals of their own that go beyond just "survive today and get back home".

The portrayal of ex-military people is utterly solid. The portrayal of a new romantic relationship feels clunky. Covert ops in a poor African country seem plausible; so does some sneakiness in the USA, though the supposed professionals doing it seem pretty poor at the basic skills of kidnapping and interrogation.

I don't know. I never found myself caught up in the flow of the story, because it never seemed to develop one; so instead it turned into a repetitive cycle of problem, problem gets worse, response solves problem. At 230K words I really expect more from a novel than a series of short stories.

A third volume, Sacrificial Red, is planned but has not appeared.

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