This is how I want my space opera, fast, explosive, expansive and inclusive. This story takes advantage of having a huge universe to play in, with so may different milieus in the worlds n which to immerse and explore.
A multifaced view from well-developed characters diverse in origin and focus in a future star-spanning human, and transhuman, civilization dealing with an incursion of, in the author's words, 'Space Nazis'. It's an apt descriptor but these villains The Sturm are much more entertaining by being uptodate.
Anyone who has thrilled to any kind of space opera - this has what you want. If you loved S.A Corey's The Expanse books/TV series (oh when will those streaming services realize the untapped gems that reside in the author's bibliography) with the fast-paced spaceship scenes and cracking dialog of those tales then winner of the Star of Valor Lieutenant Lucinda Hardy is your stop on this wild ride. If you like the hard-boiled noir of Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon novels/tv series has you covered from the moment you meet Ariana and her crew in a bar fight with Yakuza in an orbital habitat Eassar worthy of the best John Woo action has to offer. They also include my favorite character Jaddi COTO for his DRAX the Destoryeresque view of the world.
For those you were engrossed in the world-building of Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch may I give you a pissed-off Princess Alessia Szu Suri sur Montanblanc ul Haq.
The weapons-grade snark hurled between Professor McLennan and his floating synthetic Armada class intellect will recall fondly those of Ian M Bank's Culture series and their minds and ship names. Though I quibble with his outdated views on the effect of the addition of water in whiskey, the good professor clearly lacks the friendship of anyone with a chemistry degree.
There are others all as well developed and with a unique voice but the story stands or falls on how crafted is the villain all these great characters face and in the Laconophilic the STRUM the story doesn't falter. A future incarnation of the sort of group a bunch of MRAs would collectively onanistically spill into existence.
But if this makes it sound like a grab bag of themes, styles, and characters I apologise because that doesn't describe what John Birmingham has achieved here. This is a literary gestalt a synergystic whole much greater than the sum of its parts.
Take that Mario Vargas Llosa indeed.
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