Friday, January 19, 2018

INVASION: Day of Battle, by John F Holmes

I just re-read my review of "Invasion, Book 1:Resistance," which you can find here; and I'm thinking: WOW, was I ever a tough grader! I gave that book 4 stars, SOLELY because it ended on such a cliff-hanger. I believe I'm going to have to amend that review, now, and clarify that it was BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH A COMPELLING STORY!!!! and had a cliff-hanger ending. The second volume wasn't available at that time, so it was really just frustration that I couldn't go further that's reflected in the loss of a star; It wasn't that I didn't like it; it's that I liked it too much.

Well, Holmes has atoned for that with this book. Not only has he written the much desired sequel, but his prologue does an excellent job of refreshing my memory without boring me to tears. I read the first book in August, to get the review out before the Dragon Awards were voted, and somehow (it was personal stuff) I missed the release of this in November. So, the Prologue was needed, and was very well done, indeed.

This is the kind of book that would be placed on the top shelf of my bookcase, in the days before e-books were my drug of choice. If I turn my head, I can see the crowded array of those top-shelf books: Heinlein; Niven; Pournelle; Drake. Clancy and Crichton were on the next shelf, by the way, just to give you a better idea of my rating system back then. It's outmoded, now, because I have shifted over to ebooks, and I might procure as many as three dead-tree books each year, and those are usually reference materials; the exceptions are autographed copies, which I do pick up from time to time.

So much for the preliminary, now on to the review of THIS volume in the story, which may be found on Amazon here:

Many of the characters from "Resistance" continue their stories in "Day of Battle," and some of them regrettably end their stories here. That's to be expected, in a war fought against superior technology, particularly when the enemy holds the high ground.

However, the covert plan has made arrangements for those circumstances. Timing, as always, is the key, and since the enemy has systematically stomped on advanced communications, that is probably the most difficult part of the plan to implement. Everything has to happen at the same time, or, at least, in the exact sequence. And that's a difficult story to tell.

Holmes manages to do that quite effectively, however, by telling the complete story of each point-of-view character from beginning to end. When he shifts the POV, he summarizes the other activities that are taking place at the same time, so that we realize the incredible complexity of the battle, without getting lost  in the story.

The space battle has to be won. The submarine attacks have to be protected. The cities have to be invaded. The strong points and other key installations have to be defeated, and it all has to happen at the same time, or it won't work, and we won't get another chance.

It would not be possible, without the assistance of the superbrains of the artificial intelligences, coordinated by the commanding general with a brain link. It would not be possible, without the theft of an invader spacecraft, piloted by the Empress of Japan. It would not be possible, without the skill and determination of a pitifully small number of combat veterans, who have been waiting for their chance. It would not be possible, without the volunteers and conscripts from the generation which has grown up post-invasion.

And Holmes manages to tell every story, in a way that allows us to experience the personal sacrifices made at each level.

The book doesn't solve every issue, fortunately, so we have (at least) one other volume to anticipate. The same cliff-hanger feel isn't here in this story, for which we may be truly grateful.

Peace be on your household.

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