Sunday, September 10, 2017
Minutegirls, by George Phillies
You can read my Amazon review here, and also at the end of this blog.
However, I'd truly like you to consider giving this one some splash, since it's an excellent book from a much under-appreciated author, You can do that by writing a review on Amazon, and by voting 'helpful' on my Amazon review.
I obtained a review copy of the book from the author.
Kudos to the excellent cover art by Cedar Sanderson on this edition; it's a much better representation of the story than earlier versions.
I just checked: I've been writing Amazon book reviews for over three years, total of 472 reviews (not all of those are book reviews, though). Even so, there is one aspect to the process that still seems to be beyond me: I always fail to look at the book description to see how many pages I've committed to.
It's a hold-over from the decades I spent reading dead-tree books. Those, I learned to judge by heft at a very early age. From my very first days, when a thick book seemed forever over my head, to the point sometime in the 7th grade when I grabbed the thickest books in the library first, sometimes without looking at titles, the physical size of the book was communicated by the way it looked, and by the heft in my hand.
It doesn't work that easily with e-books. Certainly, the file size is (for ME) content-free, since I don't even look at it. Even the number of pages doesn't quite give me the same information.
I'm going to have to figure out a way to adapt to this. I'll get on that, just as soon as I can develop a feel for how far 110 kilometers is, or how 32 degrees Centigrade feels, without translating those into miles and Fahrenheit.
Well, this is for sure: this is a BIG book, at 440 pages. For guys like me, who like to read a LOT, that's a good thing. There have been times when I've pulled a book off the shelves by James Michener, Herman Wouk, or Tom Clancy, and given a pleased, relaxed sigh, even before I turned the first page. It DOES have a disadvantage for me, personally, though: I not only read, but review these things. And I confess to feeling a little bit guilty when ANYTHING puts me off my pace of reading and reviewing a book every other day.
It's still a pleasure, though, and for those who are waiting for me to get off my duff and review YOUR book, all I can tell you is: I'm doing the best I can.
Here's the set-up: in the not-too-distant future, at least one world war gets touched off, and before it's resolved,the United States is an occupied country, with a (somewhat) unified Europe being the primary occupier. Their troops behave very badly, and don't appear to show any remorse for that.
Most of the causes of the war and the following armistice aren't discussed; primarily, this part of the history serves to provide a rationale for the quite functional paranoia that drives diplomatic interactions. In addition, significant technology with war applications was developed by multiple parties to the conflict, and I get the impression that it was the difficulty of continuing the occupation that ended it, not any real change of a problematic policy, on anyone's part.
In particular, defense screens have been developed, and these not only stop kinetic and beam energy, they also serve as as an effective barrier to observation by spies, on either side, of military and commercial developments.
The European Union is dominated by the French as the executive arm, with the Germans serving as an administrative element. Other countries are allowed to contribute unskilled or semi-skilled labor, but certainly are in no position to make or influence policy. The French and Germans appear to regard their forfeit of rulership of all they survey as an aberration, and all of their actions seem to have a return to domination as the primary goal. However, their ideology has massively crippled their ability to wage war or to administer peace, and they cannot even perceive the problem. They have rigidly controlled the economy, and innovation is discouraged. Furthermore, in the interest of producing a worker-friendly society, the work-week is restricted to 32 hours per week, even under emergency conditions. On the other hand, they clearly have had some technological advances over the Americans, and have made contact with non-human races in their space program. Could those two be related, I wonder?
The Americans, meanwhile, have radically transformed their society as a reaction against the atrocities committed during the Occupation. One of the more striking transformations has been in the physical characteristics of women, most likely a direct result on the number of casual rapes committed against the population under the Occupation, when the citizens were treated as chattel. Through undisclosed means, bone density and musculature differences have been eradicated, and the long-standing advantage men had in upper body strength has been eliminated as a factor. Prominent female Resistance leaders during the Occupation established a new set of norms for women warriors, the Minutegirls. The constitute deadly combat troops, and contain nested secret societies, all designed to prevent any future attempt to subjugate the US from being successful.
There are some marvelous other adaptations, as well. For one, anyone in the National Command Structure MUST, by law, be accompanied by a bodyguard, whose job it is to execute their principal if it appears they will violate any of a set of rules stipulated as a part of the new form of government adopted by the US. No secret meetings; no standing army; nothing restricting the right of an individual to keep and bear arms. And the original idea of fleeing from the power of despots remains a fundamental part of American policy.
Excellent battle action; complex characters; very well thought out societies, with appropriate humor slashes at all the right places: all these combine to make this a good book for a nice, long read.