Friday, August 31, 2018

Dragon Award Finalist, Best Mil Sci Fi: Price of Freedom

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...and a text link for those who do: Price of Freedom by Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle.

Preliminaries and Disclaimers.  This is review #17 in the series I'm doing on the finalists for the 2018 Dragon Award, and is #4 in the category of 'Best Military Science Fiction.' It's also the next to last of the books I'm reviewing, which is a good thing, since Dragon Con is this weekend, and voting ends at midnight tomorrow. It's ALSO the last of the books I was able to get through the Kindle Unlimited program, which was the biggest single source of all the books I obtained, with 11 coming from KU, four coming from Baen, and three received directly from the author.

Several of the books I reviewed were part of a series, going as deep as #8, I believe. "Price of Freedom" is number three in the series, and I suppose it was inevitable that this was going to happen: : I had problems with continuity.

The authors took pains to keep that from happening, with an exhaustive cast of characters listed in the front of the book. Alas, that wasn't enough for me. Your mileage may vary.

An utterly inadequate book review. The defects in this review are completely due to my inability to grasp the Big Picture of the story arc. Incidents are described clearly, dialogue is usually informative and snarky, with pleasing references to ever-popular cult movies such as Monty Python's Quest For the Holy Grail, and I understood the significance SOMEWHAT of the main battle, but I really didn't know how it all fit together. So:
A dimensional rift exists on a planet far out on the frontier of known space (that's NOT the Niven Known Space!), and monsters are coming in. The Bad Company goes in to wipe out the monsters, rescue to inhabitants, and gain access to a portable power plant technology that will revolutionize warfare, communications, and pretty much everything else.
Meanwhile, one of the sentient computers is going to night school to become more advanced. The resident Mad Genius is a bit miffed at being told what to do, and hundreds of liberated prisoners housed nearby go nuts when they see a woman. 

Yeah. Not much of a review, was it? Don't get me wrong: I ENJOYED reading the book. It's just that in this particular case, THIS reader wasn't able to make sense of how all the characters interacted, and where the story came from, and where it was going. The humor and pathos of duct-taping a sentient German Shepherd face-to-muzzle with a team leader was not lost on me, nor were the other japes and jams; I just never knew, when a particular person/event entered the picture, if that was unusual, or something everyone expected to happen. 

Conclusion. While the writing was entertaining, I suffered from lack of story. If you have been reading the series, everything is likely to make sense, and therefore, you might see this as the perfect candidate for the Dragon Award for Best Military Sci Fi. I can't support that choice, because it's just TOO dependent on prior work to stand on its' own. I have no idea as to how popular this series is, and if there is a huge population out there which was waiting breathlessly for this installment, it might cop the award.

Peace be on your household.

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