And for those who are running an ad blocker, here's the cover image:
(The Good Guy is in the mecha)
And here is THE LINK to the book. And if you click on the link and buy stuff, I get a pittance.
I think my condensed Goodreads review is already up, and I'm about to submit a (condensed) review to Amazon as well. If that goes up quickly, I'll post a link here. Otherwise, I'll put it in the comments later, when it does get posted.
A great good RED FRIDAY to all my friends and neighbors out there in Internet Land. Every Friday is RED Friday; we wear something RED, and we Remember Everyone Deployed. And to my family members who have stumbled across this, I believe I have solved the problem that kept me home a couple of weeks ago. Now, as soon as my transportation works out, I'll be there.
Today, I am reviewing Chris Kennedy's "The Replicant War." Now, while this book WAS a Dragon nominee, it was NOT one of the books I reviewed last August. That's because I only review nominees in four categories: Best SF, Best Fantasy, Best Alternate History, and Best Mil SF. "The Replicant War" was nominated in the "Best Media Tie-In" category, and that's an area about which I know nothing.
SO: Why am I reviewing it at all?
First, because it was written by Chris Kennedy. I have been quite impressed by the work his fledgling publishing house has put out, especially the stories in the Four Horsemen Universe. When I think of the long years of drought that was the 1970s and 1980s for guys like me, who grew up with SCIENCE! ROCKETS TO THE MOON! and the few, paltry items we found in those decades; well, the abundance of good writing available now is a delight.
Second, well, umm...mecha saves the world?
So, let me get this out of the way first: as far as I can tell, the qualification for the "Media Tie-in" category is that this story is based on an immersive online game, Worlds of War, which doesn't actually exist (yet). In fact, the tech to deliver the game experience doesn't exist yet.
There is, however, a sho-nuff video game, Turbolance, referenced in the story. I don't know anything about it, other than the description given in the text (knights with lances on motorcycles), but if you are interested in checking that out, THIS LINK is provided in the prefatory material.
Brenda Mihalko and Ricky Ryan are responsible for the cover art; fans of the 4HU will recognize the look and feel of their work. Nicely detailed scary things, etc.
Although we aren't given dates, I think we can assume from other clues that this takes place in the not-too-distant future. The only tech advances I could find is that hardware providing for a completely immersive gamer experience is available to the players, and they are only mildly astonished by the system's tech.
Our protagonist is one Ryan Johnson, a senior majoring in Game Design at the fictional Oliver Wolcott University in Washington, DC. We meet him as he is prepping to enter the gamer for the first time, something he has been looking forward to ever since rumors of the game's release hit the internet.
Apart from the immersive experience, he follows a path familiar to anyone who has ever played a game of any kind. Certainly, his early experience is an exact match for a computer-based game, but I couldn't help but be reminded of the time my dad taught me how to play solitaire when I was in kindergarten.
With all the similarities, however, there are enough differences that Ryan begins to suspect that there is more to the game than meets the eye. He's right.
And the review STOPS RIGHT THERE, almost, because spoilers, and I ain't gonna.
Almost: There is nothing about this that would cause a responsible parent from keeping it from their teenager. The language is PG-13; not too gory, no sexual content at all.
Almost: While the story DOES include lots of technology, and much of it gets blown to smithereens, it's the decisions made by the characters that drive the story.
Almost: The Amazon description refers to "The Replicant War" as a "...fast-paced, action-packed LitRPG novel..." LitRPG is not a classification I was familiar with before last year, when I reviewed a book with that classification. That work was awful! It seemed to be nothing but screenshots of a game being played online. THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS IS! This is a correctly put-together story. No assembly required, etc.
So, there you have it. It's a good read, and after six months, I have finally gotten the review done.
Peace be on your household.