It’s new book day again. This morning I cracked open Eifelheim by Michael Flynn, one of the panelists at Boskone.
So let’s look back on the awesomeness that was the book I just finished, Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops: Control Point. Let me copy and paste what I threw on twitter yesterday when I finished to sum up the total experience.
It is fully deserved of all the praise floating around the internets. It is a fast read, but in a good way. The pacing is breakneck all the way through and it jumps in with both feet right on page one. Some people have said that’s not the best way to start, but I am more than ok with it.Control Point is full on with military jargon and mostly doesn’t bother to explain itself. I’m not a military guy, but between working in a shipyard, reading other military sci fi and playing xbox, the learning curve was hardly a bump. If you’re background has less military jargon in it than mine, there’s a glossary. It’s all good.
The idea itself is pretty awesome. Modern military fantasy. I’ve seen a lot of military genre stuff, but it’s mostly space marines. I’ve read plenty of modern fantasy and too much of it is “Hey I grew up watching Buffy!” and the good stuff I’ve seen hasn’t been about the military. Army wizards, that’s pretty awesome right from the start because if magic did suddenly appear in the world, no shit the Army is going to want to sit on that. A lot of the world building ofControl Point is very plausible and not always in a way that would be positive for the inhabitants, but makes you stop and think.
SoControl Point has a great idea, some awesome world building and a pacing that will take you start to finish without stopping for air. What’s left? One of the most realistic characters I’ve read in a while and that counts doubly so in terms of military SF. Oscar Britton is a character steeped in grey. His actions and inner thoughts are very realistic in that there is good and bad in his life and on the page. I’ve found that in military fiction espicially, it’s easy to go with the “Yes sir absolutely sir!” attitude and never go beneath that. Oscar is constantly beset by conflicting emotions about his role in this new world he gets dropped into. There were a couple times in the opening chapters, before I really got to know Oscar, where I stopped and thought “Would he really just keep on doing that?” When I stopped and thought about it, yeah, a military guy would compartmentalize and then analyze later. That kind of stop and think moment only came once and never became a distraction.
The one thing I’m surprised was not addressed very much was that Oscar is a black guy in the middle of Vermont. A character’s race doesn’t bother me one bit. Vermont and New Hampshire have been constantly fighting for the title of Least Diverse State and Vermont finally overtook New Hampshire with 96.5% during the last census. I can understand not wanting to make a big deal about something like that but having lived in 96.3% New Hampshire, I was surprised that it wasn’t noted more. Not a negative or positive, it’s neutral but it stuck out to me a bit.
I am very happy with the decisions Oscar made throughout the book. They made sense with his thought process and were satisfying as a reader. Those two things don’t always coincide. This book is first in a trilogy and sets up the next but without leaving you painfully hanging. The shades of grey surrounding the world and Oscar has also made me stop and think about the thought process of some of my characters in the book I’m writing. So it’s inspirational on top of everything else.
I recommend the ever living hell out of this book for anyone remotely interested in military fiction or modern fantasy.