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Jack Campbell: Lost fleet: Dauntless (2006, Ace Books) 4 stars

The Alliance has been fighting the Syndic for a century-and losing badly. Now its fleet …

Review of 'Lost fleet' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I think I like military science fiction. But it's so hard to tell, because a lot of it isn't very good.

What I mean here is that The Lost Fleet isn't very good. It's not awful, it's all-round better than [b:Into the Black|12971820|Into the Black (Odyssey One, #1)|Evan Currie||16237035] (by Evan Currie, and which I reviewed before) for example, and yet in individual ways its so much worse.

The characters are all the same. The bad apples are cardboard cut-out people with no personality apart from the will to be the villains.

It needs an editor to point out the language problems. Phrases with annoying repetition, like
"He could see that the ship had once been a good-looking ship, but..." just set my teeth on edge.

People glower and scowl a lot, which is apparently the MSF way of showing emotion.
The protagonist is constantly exhausted, …

Mark Dunn: Ella Minnow Pea (Paperback, 2002, Anchor Books) 4 stars

An epistolary novel set on a fictional island off the South Carolina coastline, Ella Minnow …

Review of 'Ella Minnow Pea' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Ella Minnow Pea is a contrived fantasy set on an island of people who delight in flowery language. It features a small, old-fashioned courtship during what I would more likely describe as "a plague of letters".

It's fun and diverting. It's not difficult to read even when, about three-quarters through, it switches to using homophones instead of restricting words themselves.

The pace never rises above a gentle saunter. Don't think of it as some great literary achievement, but enjoy it for what it is.

Algis Budrys: Rogue moon (1978, Avon) 3 stars

It was there on the dark side of the Moon, waiting for the first human …

Review of 'Rogue moon' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Rogue Moon has some fairly critical reviews. People complain that it's boring, that it has one-dimensional characters, a weak ending and pointless digressions. They're not entirely wrong.

The characters all have a similar voice - presumably Budrys' voice - and spend most of their time in monologue. They each have a single, powerful motivation. Their interactions are there to allow them to explore these motivations rather than to forward the plot.

It was written in 1960 and the way that shows through is mostly in the characters roles and the author's intruding sexism. You remember the long scene in Day of the Triffids where the protagonist talks about how women have guided human evolution to the point where men do everything for them? That kind of thing. It's very much of its time, and reads a little like an Edmund Cooper novel. I'm positive it was meant to be progressive. …

Review of 'The red' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I've read a bit of "military science fiction" as the genre's been, er... genred. Most of it really isn't very good. You could probably guess by the solid row of stars next to this text that I didn't feel that way about the Red trilogy.

It's good, it's really good. It's a set of questions about our increasingly connected future (the one where we're all paranoid that our waffle makers are secretly judging us) and it's played as an adventure.

There is quite a lot of fighting and blowing things up, though it's believable enough to a layperson such as me who has never even worn an exoskeleton for anything more than the daily commute.

Mostly, it's a relief to read something decent in terms of modern military SF.

Ernest Cline: Armada (Hardcover, 2015, Crown Publishers) 3 stars

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a …

Review of 'Armada' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I enjoyed Ready Player One, and was curious as to read what Cline wrote next, whether he could keep up the pace of nerdy retro observations.
Well, he can, but it doesn't make much sense outside of that particularly contrived world.

In Armada, it feels forced and purposeless. I wasn't interested in the characters, and I wasn't particularly sympathetic for their plight. I felt the romance was iffy and the twists were unsurprising. It's a shame, because if it was his first novel I'd probably have enjoyed it more.

Where I could overlook the problems in Ready Player One because of the enormous amount of fun it was, Armada actually make me think less of RPO.