Saturday, 9 July 2016
HARD SF REVIEW: BY FORCE OF ARMS BY WILLIAM C. DIETZ
By Force of Arms by William C. Dietz
In By Blood Alone, Colonel Bill Booly got sent down to Earth as punishment for not changing his testimony about another officer. His feeling on his betrayal have to be kept aside though as there are more pressing matters to deal with. Now he is General Booly and his men have to save every person in the universe as a killer technology threatens to destroy them.
The latest volume in the Legion of the Damned series, Booly comes back from the brink of what could have been disgrace as a hero to his men who risked their lives fro freedom. Now Naa Commandos are set to protect him, yet assassins come to try and take over their encampment. Dietz fleshes out the characters and their lives, their doubts, loves and hopes. Booly's rescue mission to get back Maylo gives us an idea of what kind of man he is, and what others think about him. Maylo's confidence in him as a leader leads to her love for him as a man. He has learned the trust of his fellow officers even thought the story gets much darker than expected.
The assassins plan their attack, infiltrating the camp, first Handsim, then the others, but Thraki weren't the kind of enemy they had expected. Along with finding out the reason for the Thraki's sneak attack, Dietz explains the reasons for what happened to the Thraki race. The Confederacy of Sentient Beings was a military alliance set up in the hope of creating peace among the races. While everyone else wanted peace, The Clone Hegemony and the Ramanthians wanted to subvert Earth's government for their own reasons. The Thraki side with the two conspirators, creating a sense of unease. A race called the Sheen are the reason for the Thraki fleeing.
One thing is certain with Dietz's universe is that no matter how far it is into the future, there is no lack of sexual exploitation and it is a good offset for the way he writes about some real powerful female role models. As refreshing as this is, he also points out the hell Booly's men go through to protect the people around them and the terror they have to cope with. For a long time, Booly had a need to make a difference in his life, rather than inherit anything, his intention to win had constantly run through his veins, and leads him to set his sights on several purposes in his life. As Deitz stresses, even for a half-breed, he has done well for his self-esteem, but also has the trust of his men regardless of his self-doubts. Booly has to gather his men together assess their strengths and weaknesses in order to seek out and destroy the Sheen. He has to get the group together so they can build a communication centre as well as build a weapon to destroy them for good as they have become too powerful to leave alone. Booly doesn't think it will work, but he can only try using his best men to put an end to the enemy threat.
There is no peace for the good in this universe. Even though the mutiny form the Clone Hegemony had been stopped and Earth's government restored, peace can be just a world unless the leadership of one general can change things for the better. The threat of the Sheen is very real and even humans can be used to corrupt their own government to gain favours. This novel gives Deitz more of an opportunity to show his organized military planning. He shows us this through his characters, both allies and enemies and what happens around them. Getting inside their heads is priority for any reader and he deliverers his way of developing the characters and the dire circumstances he puts them in.