A Desert Called Peace and Carnifex

These are a pair of books by Tom Kratman. He’s a bit loopy politically, and it shows somewhat in the books. These books are essentially a set of what ifs. In them he rails against radical Islam, transnationalism (ex: the UN, Amnesty International, et al). The basic setup is that of an alternate Earth of sorts. All the undesirables are shipped off to Terra Nova, and thence start a new life on a new planet. Of course, since they’re still just like us, they have all the problems we do. One of the biggest problems with these books is that Kratman fails to diverge from history enough. Yes, history repeats itself, but he has it repeating itself too closely, including the Japan analog getting bombed by the US analog.

That said, it’s some excellent mil SF. The descriptions of combat are fairly believable, and well written. He also includes what could be called nothing other than a political tract at the end of each book. It’s definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste. Especially those of highly liberal leanings.

Recommended with reservations.

Amazon links: A Desert Called Peace; Carnifex

The Diamond Age

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson essentially the story of the growing up of a girl named Nell, after nanotechnology has changed the economic structure of the world. One of the wonders that has resulted from this revolution is a tome called “A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer”. Essentially, it’s a book that teaches Nell everything she needs to know, including how to read. The copy she has was a stolen bootleg copy of what was supposed to be a one of a kind device for a Duke’s granddaughter. Part of the setup was that voice actors would do the requisite voice work, instead of using a computer generated voice to do so. Thus, Nell gained a mother that she didn’t really have before.

Naturally, it wouldn’t very exciting if all the stuff that happened to her was good. At one point she ends up having to use a sword against a group of men who were fairly intent on killing not only her, but all the rest of the westerners that were in the area.

A good portion of the story is of what her alter ego does in a story the book tells to her. This alter-ego goes from being locked up in a dark citadel, to fighting the Fairy Kings and eventually gaining control over the entire Land Beyond, as the final area is known. Now, since the book is actually a highly advanced computer, the story is more of an RPG that she’s playing at times than what you or I would read in a novel.

Highly Recommended.

The Last Colony

The Last Colony is the sequel to John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades. It continues the life of John Perry (from Old Man’s War) and Jane (from The Ghost Brigades), along with their daughter Zoe, as they go to administer Humanity’s newest (and quite possibly last) colony, Roanoke. For those who aren’t as well read up on history, the original Roanoke colony disappeared shortly after founding, with none of them ever seen again. Luckily for our protagonists, that isn’t quite the fate that awaits them. Rather, the organization that the Colonial Union tried to set up against the Conclave has collapsed, and the Conclave has begun a ban on colonization not under it’s own auspices.

Since this book focuses more on their life as civilians, much less action is seen compared to the previous two books. However, there is still some (the biggest of which is the destruction of a fleet of over 400 ships). If you like the previous two books in the series, you’ll probably like this one, though you’ll have to wait a while for the fourth.

Recommended.