Monday, September 4, 2017

Peacemaker, by Kevin Ikenberry

Warning: This is exclusively a book review! None of the touchy-feely stuff here!

The slightly shorter Amazon review may be found here.

Today, I'm adding the supplementary blog content at the end of the Amazon review, which follows:

Jessica Francis simply will not accept that she is overmatched. Although her choices haven't been perfect, it's the actions of others that keep dumping adversity on her, and she seems to have been born without the ability to quit.
She's a former mercenary. While she was good at what she did, her incompetent, manipulative husband managed to wreck the company, killing off friends and comrades-in-arms while doing so.
She gets a chance to become the first Human Peacemaker, thus becoming part of the thin team that provides what little galactic security there is. Since Humans are a newcomer to the Galactic Union, they encounter all of the standard prejudice of the old-timers, some of whom have the desire and ability to eliminate the species. Her first mission, in fact, as a Probationary Candidate, is to stop exactly such a project.
She succeeds. And because of her actions, the Earth is not depopulated.
Sorry, that's not good enough.
So, they give her another project, and maybe this time, if she succeeds, she'll get to join the team.
All she has to do is solve the puzzle of three races fighting over turf, when there should BE no problem. It is pathetically obvious that there is at least ONE behind-the-scenes manipulator, because the original set-up should have produced a good environment for the three races, separate from each other, at a nice profit to the merchant-engineers behind the deal. The mission has FAILURE stamped all over it, in glowing letters. But hey, if you don't play the game, you can't win, right?
Somebody in the hierarchy likes her, though, because he arranges for her to have some support. Admittedly, it's in the form of an under-strength mixed unit of armor and CASPERS, composed of raw rookies and redliners, but at least she has a bit of a reaction force.
Except she's not supposed to use it.
And she has one especially hostile individual assigned as her Mediator.
Secrets. Everybody has secrets. And what you don't know probably WILL kill you deader than Fergus' goose.
Expect plenty of action, and the elements of a detective story. It's a great read!
Okay, here is the supplementary material to the Amazon review, and it's a bit dark. As the title of my Amazon review, I used the Lazarus Long quote about the game being rigged, but how you can't win unless you play. There are, however, other options.

You can not play the game. 
You can cheat. 
And you can pull out your trusty Browning Hi Power and blow 15 tiny holes into the serpent trying to suck you into a losing set-up.

Then reload, and make more holes. 

Now, the only reason I can see that Jessica doesn't use that third option is that she really DOESN'T have a 'Quit' function incorporated. This is not a feature; this is a bug. 

For whatever reason, she thinks she can win the game, but all the evidence suggests that isn't the case. It's going to take some significant deus ex machina for her to have a chance, and that's not something you can count on. It makes sense to sacrifice yourself, IF you are standing between your loved home and the war's desolation, but she clearly states in the beginning of the story that the Earth is no more her home than her CASPER unit. Maybe she's just running on automatic, and that's NOT a long-term survival strategy. True, in a stressful situation, you let your training take over, but that's not the way to plan out a campaign.

NONE of these aliens are our friends. None of them respect us; we are, at best, cannon fodder. At worst, we are alien fodder, literally. 

So: when is it time to hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats? Hmmm...I think I might see the Jolly Roger on the horizon!

Peace be on your household.

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