War Dogs by Greg Bear
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As a long-time uber-fan of Greg Bear back in the day, I'm constantly mystified with myself that I have mostly avoided him since the mid-2000's. WHY? Well, let's put it this way: I expected him to throw mind-blowing fantastic SF at me on every level, messing with my head and showering me with brilliant ideas and smart stories.
So I shrugged and enjoyed it when he did a Hari Seldon prequel. I shrugged and tried to pray that a Star Wars novel was not selling out. And then I grew despondent when a novelist of his caliber started writing Halo novels and other for-market stuff. Thrillers? They were okay, but not great. Where's his out-there stuff? So I took a break.
I'm trying to do him justice. I loved his writing soooo much! So when I saw this new Mil-SF trilogy I sat back in my chair and said to myself, "So, is this more writing to the market instead of writing to his sense of great story?"
And then I saw the reviews, the ratings, and the corners of my mouth turned down.
And then I FINALLY read it.
This requires a little readjusting for our expectations.
Bear's done military stuff before but never to this degree. Don't get me wrong, it's pure mil-SF and Bear seems to go all out with making it as freaking accurate and PSTD-ridden and stacked with all the right terminology and even the claustrophobic sense of a life thrown to the wolves.
I was impressed! This is a genre I know fairly well and Bear writes for it damn well.
And then it hit me. This was designed to be popcorn fiction. Fun and smart and fast-paced military action that comes full of massive angst and battle on Mars against aliens and even better reveals about what they're even doing there.
It's not Moving Mars by a long shot. It's pure popcorn, and while there are a lot of great books similar to this, Bear is far from being simply average at it. He has the writing chops to amaze and put us in the hot seat. :)
And while there isn't quite as much groundbreaking stuff as his early stuff, it IS full of tech and is great at exploring all its uses. Terminology is hardcore, as is the stiff-upper-lip, but it's the claustrophobia that really made the novel shine. Single viewpoint, never knowing what's going on, and so much hostility everywhere. :)
I had to put away my expectations. This really wasn't a bad novel. It's a pure popcorn ride. :)
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