Review – Dog Country by Malcolm F Cross

Posted: May 19, 2016 in Military sci-fi, Sci-Fi
Tags: ,

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What happens when you get a group of disaffected, disgruntled, genetically engineered dog/humans suddenly ’emancipated’ into a world that doesn’t want them to be the soldiers they were created to be? Dog Country is what happens.

Check out the blurb here.

Opening with a powerful, visceral chapter, Dog Country is a novel that grips your imagination from the start and doesn’t let go. Told through two arcs, one in reverse, we are offered a unique perspective both on an intriguing near-future Earth but also on what it means to be a Dog soldier. Edane, wounded in a conflict years prior, is struggling to understand his place in society. Built for combat and hardwired to operate as part of a pack, with objectives and goals in the theatre of war, he can’t adjust to a culture that finds him obsolete even though it created him.

Likewise, his brothers (all clones of the same production line) are cast adrift; unable to find employment because of their nature yet forced not to be themselves. The idea to market their skills is attractive to many of the Dogs and soon a crowd funded revolution is underway.

Against the background of a growing mercenary coup in Azerbaijan, Edane finds that his wounds, though healing physically, have left a mark on him. The prospect of combat, of trying to rediscover whatever it was he lost, is impossible to ignore. And this is where the book really takes off. Whilst in one storyline we see Edane struggling with his nature, almost touching on ideas of PTSD in veterans, in the other we see a wider consideration of warfare.

Dog Country is very relevant to a number of current conflicts in this regard and Cross has brilliantly crafted a complex and intriguing political landscape in the Azerbaijan revolution. Positing the notion of crowd funding as a democratic revolution is a fascinating idea and simultaneously dealing with all the political machinations of elections, corruption, factions and idealism, adds to the intrigue. Yet Dog Country doesn’t shy from the equally gritty, adrenaline fuelled fire fights the clone soldiers undertake as they dispose of the dictator they were hired to remove.

However, it is Edane’s story and character that is so engaging. Through hints and small comments, the author has built a believable future world and, likewise, does the same with the genetically engineered soldiers, imbuing them with traits and instincts. For, though Edane is not strictly human, he is a character you identify with as he comes to terms with his own nature, awareness of his production parameters and, ultimately, his own free will.

This is a book packed full of awesome ideas that have been excellently executed. Both in terms of the larger, fractured political situation as well as the immediate, intense military action, Cross has created a remarkable novel.

Review copy
Self-published at Amazon Kindle

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