Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Dragon Award Finalist for Best Mil Sci Fi: Legend

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And for those of you who ARE, a text link: Legend.

Preliminaries. This is one of the two Dragon Award Finalists (the other was "Minds of Men" by Kacey Ezell) that I reviewed before the finalists were announced. I didn't select them because they were going to be award finalists; I just wanted to read some good books by authors that I have enjoyed reading in the past. Good call, huh?
I am just now posting this blog post, because I don't always blog on books I review. My lack of consistency in this causes me only the SLIGHTEST discomfort, but I wish I had written this earlier. 
Alas, I didn't.

Commentary. I really, really love reading stories about blue-collar heroes. I have no particular objection to stories about millionaires who slip into costume and fight crime on the streets of Gotham, or the debonair couple who identify the murderer while dancing and sipping champagne, but I don't KNOW any of those people. 
What I do know is guys who drive trucks, teach history, cut grass, and fix televisions. I know guys who sell cars, and guys who repair power lines, and guys who pour cement. I know the guys who fix my car, and kill the bugs at my house.
I LIKE those guys. I ride motorcycles with them. I go to meetings with them. And I like to read books written by them, and books written ABOUT them becoming heroes. Because frankly, I think those guys are heroes. They get up every day and go to work, and they take care of their kids, and mo'bunches of them have been in one of the services, and I ain't never had one of them call me a psycho because I own and operate firearms for fun and self-defense.

And that gives me any number of reasons to appreciate the writings of Christopher Woods. I first discovered his work with the 'Soulguard' series (and I'll insert the link later, I'm under a terrible time crunch to get this published so I can go babysit) (HERE'S THE LINK!), and I found his hero and the hero's posse mostly are people I would enjoy eating some Checkers burgers and fries with. I hope I do not suggest that I DON'T appreciate the work of people who make millions of dollars per year and work where there are soft carpets and air conditioning, as I reckon they probably earn their paycheck, too; it's just that I don't know any of those people.

The review, lifted ALMOST straight from Amazon.  (<=<=<=that's a link) And the reason the word 'almost' is included is because once I got back from my babysitting gig, I did the revising I didn't have time to do earlier.
"Legend" is an expansion of a character in a short story in the Four Horseman Universe collection "A Fistful of Credits."
Martin Quincy doesn't really WANT to be a merc, even though he is very, very good at what he does. He also doesn't want to command a merc company. Nobody seems to care.
He is NOT one of those guys you run into who are full of stories: "No kidding, there I was,all alone on the Plain, with nothing but a gnawed antelope thighbone...." His defect runs the other way. He much prefers to stay in the background when there is no active fighting going on, so he dislikes it when OTHERS tell his war stories. And many of those stories exist, too, because he most decidedly does NOT stay in the background when it drops into the pot.
Along the way, he picks up what may be regarded as Boon Companions; mercs who share his approach to the ethics of warfare. They like being on the side of the Good Guys; that isn't always apparent at the beginning of their contracts, in the earliest days of Earth mercs, but the wisdom gathered by participating in a number of battles finely hones his sense for the team he wants to play for. That isn't always a good move, either financially or in terms of personal survival, but it's the path he chooses, and his team goes where he goes.
Even if one of them only does it so he can kill Martin when the time is right.
I have two objections to make, and one of them is slightly ridiculous.
Slightly ridiculous objection: sex with aliens? Nah. Ain't never gonna happen. Human sexual response is primarily determined EARLY in life. Now, PERHAPS the resemblance of one of the species to a sexualized cartoon characters of the mid-80's is a factor here, but otherwise, I'm not buying it. That's ridiculous, because how you gonna have a modern hero without a romance, and I've already accepted 10 other impossible things, but I still don't buy the concept.
The second objection I have is to the lack of place/time designations in the story. The book is laid out in a series of flash-forwards / flash-backwards, and it was a little bit difficult to keep up with where certain events took place in the story. This one may also be slightly ridiculous, because I tend to skip past those labels as I read, but if they are THERE, then at least I can refer back to them if I get confused. I wish that there were clear cues: '10 years earlier, on Planet Yeep....'
Having said that, I devoured the entire book as fast as I could. It was delicious. I have been a fan of Christopher Woods work for a year or two, and my one regret is that he wasn't able to put a Checkers hamburger joint on Planet Karma. The Greek diner will have to do.
The banter between Martin and his buddies is delightful. Lots of running gags, loads of snark. You'll love it!

Closing comment: No, seriously, I HAVE to leave now to babysit!

Peace be on your household.

Postscript. As SOON as I published this post, I grabbed up some stuff I needed for baby-sitting, and precisely. exactly. perfectly. dumped the remains of my dinner, which was a smoothie consisting of protein powder, a GIANT Honey Crisp apple, plain yogurt, milk, and ice, right on the keyboard of my laptop. I didn't even have time to clean it up. I just up-ended the laptop, and put it on my chair, hoping the sheet I have covering it would soak up the gunk. Well, the laptop is working now, but I include this so that you will KNOW that I pay a price to get these posts out to you. It's worth it, though, because it's for the children.

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