Caine's Mutiny by Charles E. Gannon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Whenever I read a Gannon book, I'm always struck by his command of what he intends to do in a story. It may not always be to my taste and sometimes he seems to write himself in corners that then take a lot of effort -- and talking -- to extricate himself, but in the end, I'm almost always impressed that he pulls off what he does.
It's Space-Opera. But this one is old-school Mil-SF.
Indeed, this is so old-school Mil-SF we've even got WWII and Vietnam non-coms who have been decanted 200 years after they were spirited away, finding themselves fighting a desperate battle of survival on a planet already inhabited by a proudly-idiotic alien species that always tends to find a way into fights under any excuse.
Caine, our supremely capable Commander, gets embroiled in strange alien politics, elaborate subterfuges, space battles fought for unclear purposes, and eventually, he's asked to pick up these out-of-time refugees (who have been fighting for their survival) to return them to Earth Space.
Of course, many things go wrong, but here's the main strength of this book: the military action reads like real military action, all including antique equipment and weapons terminology mixed freely with high-tech warfare and terminology. It's a real mess. And we get to spend a lot of time in the heads of several alien species with all their psychological differences, their war practices, and enough tactics and strategies to awe any fan of this particular genre.
Me? I... kinda like Mil-SF. In small doses. Some are pretty awesome. Some are a lot more realistic than others. This one is one of the realistic ones. It also fills most of the pages.
My complaint? I think it's fine if you want a novel that is filled MOSTLY with characters talking in lieu of action. We get a clear picture, regardless, but it sometimes got on my nerves.
That being said, the BIGGER scope of this novel takes us across many systems, in and out of political negotiations with aliens, be it cease-fires or species wrangling or leverage against our own government. All of this was pretty awesome, in my opinion.
I'm sure others will get more mileage out of this than I did, but by no means was it a bad book. In some ways, it's superior to most. It just didn't appeal to me in a huge way.
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