by Christopher Golden
Ballantine Books, $26.00, 337pp
Published: June 2015
Christopher Golden is known for his extreme fantasy and horror stories so this one is a bit different. American technology has finally succeeded in creating a ‘super soldier.’ This super soldier is a robot controlled remotely which goes a long way to keeping American death toll really, really low. With such a technology to use, financial leaders and politicos discover it can be used to keep the peace and promote trade. So America becomes an even bigger police force on the planet incurring the hatred and resentment from just about every country where peace is enforced. It’s funny…our soldiers stop the genocide and rape of a country only to find everyone hates us. It’s hard to comprehend, non? Probably has something to do with an innate resentment of being forced to behave.
Our heroes are a squad of Tin Men patrolling in Syria while their bodies reside safely in a bunker in Germany. And, although many of the ordinary citizens appreciate the peace, no one really loves or trusts the deadly metal robots. And, as these things tend to occur, someone comes up with a better tech or one that can destroy the other guy’s tech. So, of course, everything goes to hell in the proverbial handbasket.
Danny has insecurities and finds himself unable to commit to a relationship. Kate lost the use of her real legs and finds a new lease on life while remotely controlling a powerful robot. Hawkins and his protegee, Mavrides, are the brutal cowboys of the squad. North had a bad morning hangover-wise and was relieved from patrol duty on the fateful morning when everything went bad. Alexa Day is daughter to the US Ambassador to Syria, paying a long overdue visit to her father that day. Aimee is one of those who watches over the sleeping bodies of the remote handlers but finds herself on the front lines. No one was having a good morning when the whole world crashed. Now Danny and Kate have to move their squad from Syria to Athens to rescue the President of the United States and Alexa isn’t sure if she’s safer with the squad or if they put a target on her.
The author does a very credible job of introducing all the characters while moving the action along almost immediately. But it is a simplistic plot hinging almost completely on the remote-controlled robots. I didn’t find it sufficiently engrossing and was ready for it to be over. He did introduce a couple crisis points that were moderately interesting but I can’t really give the book an unqualified recommendation. I think he’ll find the most receptive fans with those who most appreciate military SF. And I’m really sorry to say that as I have been a huge fan for years; but military SF is not my genre. ~~ Catherine Book