Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Link-Wrap: Wexler @SFFWorld and Lowachee @SF Signal

Here's the (seemingly now) weekly round up of reviews and assorted geekery which I've posted this week....

Tuesday my review of Django Wexler's The Thousand Names, first of his Shadow Campaigns military / flintlock fantasy series went up at SFFWorld:

War is raging between the Vordanai Empire and the Khandar; a rebelling colony led by a religious group known as the Redeemers. Into this fray (after a prologue, natch) we follow two characters; soldiers, who are embroiled in the military campaign. The first in Django Wexler’s The Shadow Campaigns, The Thousand Names is a military fantasy novel cut from a different swath of cloth. It involves guns and magic, falling into what has now come to be known as Flintlock Fantasy. The story is told primarily from the point of view of two soldiers: Marcus d’Ivoire and Winter Ihrenglass and their experiences in different parts of the military campaign, whose command is taken over by Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, an enigmatic figure to say the very least.
A magical / supernatural backdrop is mostly hinted at through the majority of the novel until the denouement. Much comes to a head when the titular MacGuffin, The Thousand Names comes more intricately woven into the plot. At this point, the novel took a bit of a pleasant and surprising turn. It felt to me as if Django was channeling a bit Lucas and Spielberg because the story veered a bit into pulpy Raiders of the Lost Ark territory.

Military Science Fiction is and has been one of the most popular sub-genres in science fiction, but the books here are quite different from the typical first-person Soldier-in-Training-Then-Fighting-a-War story. Karin Lowachee made something of a splash with her debut novel, Warchild. It won the second WarnerAspect (Hachette’s SF imprint prior to Orbit) first novel contest, sported a glowing blurb on the cover from Tim Powers, and a terrific cover from Matt Stawicki.

Much of Military SF is written by white guys, and here we have a decidedly non-white guy (Karin grew up in South America and is a woman) giving us some excellent Military SF. In the military depicted in the novels, there is no real demarcation between men and women who serve, both serve and it is barely noted (especially in Warchild). In other words, the men and women fighting together is a seamless feature of the world rather than a stand out bug. Lowachee also broaches topics not often seen in Military SF like homosexuality and the damaging effects on children.

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