Archive for the ‘Military sci-fi’ Category

Continuing the tradition of rounding up my best reads of the year, I’m going to do my utmost to pick some of the top books from a heap of excellent work I’ve had the pleasure to review. It’s taken some serious beard stroking and moustache twiddling but here goes…

I’ve read some great horror stories this year, two of which really stood out – Nod by Adrian Barnes and A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. Though very different both were psychological thrillers that picked away at the fabric of reality, personality and what grounds us in truth. Pleasingly, the shock and terror of each novel was produced alongside excellent writing and superb characters, making them both very memeorable books.

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu was one of my top fantasy novel reads, in close contention with Brian McClellan’s The Crimson Campaign. A brilliant setting made even more enjoyable by the distinct and well defined protagonists, The Grace of Kings managed to mix political intrigue, epic battles and an original, atmospheric world. It’s quality fantasy in every sense.

When it comes to top notch, awesome fantasy, Joe Abercrombie consistently serves up some of the very best. His short story collection, Sharp Ends, set in his First Law universe was, without a doubt, sheer brilliance. New characters were introduced, older actors had their origin stories told and the whole world he’s built is weaved together with exceptional skill. Hugely enjoyable, Sharp Ends is a big, bold barnburner.

Whilst I admit I’m a fan of action, adventure and gritty battle based fiction, I’ve had the chance to read some intelligent and mindful science fiction this year. Savant by Vik Abnett epitomised that. Unique worldbuilding, a slightly retro yet original tone and an engaging story revolving around mathematics and companionship, this was a standout novel in my year.

Featuring a very different yet equally enthralling maths based concept, Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit is an amazing novel. Distinctive and innovative, Yoon Ha Lee’s inspired setting brings a new vibe to sci-fi. As I said in my review, ‘It’s a stunning piece of creativity that melds futuristic ideas of technology and the feel of an epic space opera with the ephemeral and magical vibe of pure fantasy’.

Finally, the self-published novel from Malcolm F Cross, Dog Country, proved to be another highlight. A thought provoking look at geo-political warfare, Dog Country is a brilliantly written piece of military sci-fi. Genetically modified, humanoid, dog soldiers fighting in a crowdfunded revolution whilst, simultaneously, trying to find their place in a society that created yet rejected them. Great characters, a clever concept and an even better plot.

I’ve also watched a few decent films but hats off to Mad Max:Fury Road. Though time has been a precious commodity this year (my wife and I still haven’t started season 7 of TWD) I did manage to catch Westworld and the sixth series of The Walking Dead – I will have some posts on that very soon.

I’m whittling my way through my reading pile and have some interesting books lined up. It’s been a good year for reading and I’m looking forward to more reviews and interviews.
Happy reading!

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Set firmly between the films Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope, James Luceno’s Catalyst features as a prequel to the latest movie in the Star Wars franchise, Rogue One. While some of the finer details may have been lost on me, a casual Star Wars fan, those more invested in the universe will, no doubt, find much to explore.

And, this is what I enjoy so much about shared world, tie-in works of fiction; they can be enjoyed by nearly everyone. Catalyst (much like The Force Awakens) captures the essence of the original trilogy of films released in the late 1970’s. A healthy dose of political intrigue mixed with a massive, far reaching universe, all tied together with the fight between good and evil.

Catalyst focuses on the emergence of the Death Star and the machinations behind its inception, much of it revolving around Galen Erso. Though trying to remain neutral in the war between Separatists and Republic, his genius and its value makes him a pawn in the growing conflict as the Empire begins to emerge. Ostensibly rescued from imprisonment by Orson Krennic, a driven and determined member of the Empire, Erso, along with his wife Lyra and daughter Jyn, swap one prison for another.

Krennic is ruthless in his pursuit for success in the new order of things. Erso is a mere cog, albeit an important one, in realising a weapon so powerful that Emperor Palpatine won’t be able to deny Krennic’s significance. What follows is a compelling game of strategy as Krennic attempts to manoeuvre players to his whim, especially keeping the pacifist Erso working on his energy project while using the data to construct the Death Star’s massive laser system.

The novel really picks up the pace in the last quarter as Moff Tarkin discovers that he is also being played by Krennic and begins his own campaign. Similarly Lyra, with the help of Has Obitt, another pawn, go off script. It is here that so many threads begin to coalesce into the bigger Star Wars picture. Rebel alliances form, the faceless Empire, epitomised by the Death Star, takes shape whilst the battle lines between good and evil are drawn on both a personal and intergalactic level.

Though the idea of the Force and the Dark side are writ large throughout Star Wars, it’s also the individual decisions that are so important and James Luceno does a great job of putting such obstacles in the way of his characters. Erso must choose between his family and his research; Krennic between his desire for status and honesty; Has Obitt between smuggling and selfishness, and rebellion and selflessness.

Catalyst is an absorbing novel that manages to consider both the intergalactic universe of Star Wars as well as the individual, all rendered against the background of the imposing Death Star. Whatever type of Star Wars fan you may be, Catalyst is a great read.

Review copy
Published by Century

Author of the action packed Into The Guns William C Dietz, has kindly written a guest blog explaining how his latest novel came to be.

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William C. Dietz
October 24, 2016

Birth Of A New Series

Where do my stories come from? In my case a new series is usually inspired by something I observe in the world around me. And the America Rising series was no different. While reading an article I noticed that all of America’s strategic petroleum reserves were located in the south. That was sufficient to remind me of the American civil war, and the fact that the south not only continues to be a bastion of conservative thought, but home to many libertarians. And according to the Libertarian Party Platform, “…we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.”

The first part of that sentence sounds okay, to me at least, but the last five words are troubling. They could be interpreted to mean that individuals are in no way responsible for helping others if they don’t want to especially via the mechanism of government. To my mind that suggests a Darwinian “survival of the fittest” attitude toward society in which every man and woman’s first obligation is to take care of themselves, and to hell with the elderly, the sick and the poor.

What if something terrible happened? I wondered. What if a swarm of meteors devastated much of the Earth’s surface, and threw so much particulate matter up into the air, that the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface was severely reduced? Crops would fail, people would starve, and a great deal of civil unrest would result.

Libertarians have never been able to compete effectively with the two major parties in the United States, but if society fell apart perhaps they could I decided, especially in the south. And that, as I mentioned earlier, is where all of the country’s petroleum reserves are located. Things came together in my mind, and boom! I was off and running. Into The Guns is the first novel in the America Rising trilogy.

Having created a dystopian scenario the next step was to populate it with characters both good and bad. Samuel T. Sloan is the Secretary of Energy when the meteors strike—and is on an official trip to Mexico. Due to the chaos it takes weeks for Sloan to make it back to the U.S. where forces working for the libertarian oligarchs intercept Sloan and lock him up.

Meanwhile army lieutenant Robin Macintyre is escorting a column of civilian refugees across a mountain pass, when a secondary disaster cuts her unit off from the military chain of command, and forces “Mac” to fend for herself.

Eventually both characters will play important roles in the fight to reestablish the America that was—and will meet during a desperate battle deep inside of enemy territory.
Into The Guns is available online and in bookstores now.

For more about me and my fiction please visit williamcdietz.com. You can find me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/williamcdietz and you can follow me on Twitter: William C. Dietz @wcdietz

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I’ve just noticed that the last few books I’ve reviewed have all been in the post-apocalypse genre. Each and every one has been vastly different explorations of how humanity deals with disaster and Into The Guns is another, distinct take on the theme. The beginning stanza in a new series, titled America Rising, William C Dietz has produced an action packed, barnburner of a novel.

Into The Guns doesn’t dally. A mass meteor strike sets off a series a catastrophes, from tsunamis and earthquakes to missle attacks from China. America is in disarray and within weeks armed gangs and drug lords are creating fiefdoms. The government is shattered and its armed forces left without a chain of command. Everyone is fighting for themselves.

Including each of the characters in this ensemble cast. Sam T Sloan, Secretary of Energy, was in Mexico when the meteors struck and in the middle of escaping a kidnap attempt. Alone and far from home soil, Sloan quickly proves how resourceful and resilient he is, appropriating a canoe before undertaking a 300 mile journey. Yet just as he reaches the USA, he is captured though by different people with a totally different purpose.

Meanwhile, First Lieutenant Robin ‘Mac’ Macintyre is tasked with leading a group of refugees out of the disaster zone. However, though she and her squad survive a landslide, her caravan of citizens are buried under a mass of rock. Cut off from her base and with no commanding officer, Mac sets about making sure her team survive.

In the intervening weeks, post- catalyst America becomes divided. Mac and her team become mercenaries whilst Sloan makes good on a daring escape. Civil war looms large as a group of enterprising entrepreneurs in the South form a new government based on pure capitalism.

As this is the set up in a trilogy, a number of pieces are put in place; namely Sloan’s promotion to President and the plot line conflict between Mac and her sister (an Army Major) and father (a General). Both have sided with the South in this new Civil War against Slone and the North. This is a blockbuster, big budget novel and the action is relentless – a President fighting on the front lines, a country torn apart and divided and a family at war, echoing the greater battle.

into The Guns is hard military sci-fi in a post-catalyst American wasteland at its explosive best. Here’s looking forward to the next in the series.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books

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Recently, I was afforded the time to watch a trifecta of epic sci-fi films. First up, Terminator Genisys.

As a big fan of the franchise, I really wanted to like Terminator Genisys and, in the main, I did. I was excited about a new chapter in the cannon and with Arnie back on board, I had high hopes. Personally, I thought the opening scenes paying homage to the original was brilliant and the T-800 versus T-800 was a great way to show the new direction this film was about to take. A new timeline and a different past/future was a good move to make.

Again, in the main part, this worked well. Changing Skynet and Cyberdyne Systems away from physical robotics to the virtual software programs and media networks we so rely on nowadays was a smart idea. Equally, pitching John Connor as the antagonist was another clever shift in the paradigm; he remains a saviour but this time for Skynet, not humanity.

Whilst Terminator 2, 3 and to an extent Salvation followed a timeline, this reboot had some serious potential. The opening homage, the continuity of elements and details such as the scars on John Connor’s face, all recognised the previous chapters whilst stating that this was a definite new beginning for the franchise.

But. Firstly, Genisys was kind of ‘lite’; a diet version of the gritty, cyborg-machine apocalypse of the original. Though Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney were both solid, neither was gnarly enough for the roles. Clarke didn’t seem to have that unhinged factor that Linda Hamilton brought to the second film; she wasn’t meant to be a terrified waitress but neither was she a prepped warrior. Likewise, Courtney was almost too soft and bewildered compared to the sinewy, hard-as-nails Kyle Reese from the first Terminator; he just didn’t seem to have the readiness nor adaptability of someone forged in the ruins of humanity.

Lastly, the ending. Equally ‘lite’ and definitely confusing. Time travel usually is but to have Kyle met his younger self to tell himself to remember to do a something he’s clearly already done (else his younger self wouldn’t be with his parents and Judgement Day would have occurred) is a weird paradox and, seemingly pointless. I expect there were a few elements left unanswered, such as Arnie’s character, that were waiting for the next film. Whether that happens or not, or the rights get sold again, I hope the central concept behind Terminator remains as it important as it is just like a futuristic CPU picked out of the wreckage of a destroyed factory.

Terminator Genisys was a good effort. I know I’ll definitely watch it again because, like I said, I’m a big fan and there’s nothing better than a marathon viewing of your favourite franchise.

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Author Yoon Ha Lee was kind enough to answer some quick questions about her book Ninefox Gambit, some of the ideas behind her story and what we can expect next.

Could you give a brief introduction to who you are and to your novel Ninefox Gambit?

I’m a Korean-American writer living in Louisiana with my family and a very lazy cat. I got my B.A. in mathematics from Cornell University, although I’m not always sure my math professors would approve of what I’m doing with my degree!

Ninefox Gambit is about a disgraced captain, Kel Cheris, who teams up with an undead general, Shuos Jedao, to retake a fallen star fortress.
The good news: Jedao is a brilliant tactician and he may be the only one who can help her. The bad news: he’s also a mass murderer, and Cheris has to keep him from going rogue–if he doesn’t kill her first.

I found the symbols used in the book to be unique – could you explain a little on the inspiration for the ideas of moths (as space ships) and the signifiers of fox, raven and others?

I came up with the voidmoths because I wanted the spaceships to be biotech. Although the heroine doesn’t realize this, they’re actually enslaved cyborged spacefaring aliens. I went with “moth” because they’re creatures that can fly and it was a nice, succinct, one-syllable word. (Contrast, for instance, having space flamingos. Too many syllables! Also, very pink.)

The idea of a ‘calendrical’ technology was equally intriguing – can you expand on the ideas of math in the story?

The origins of the idea came from a couple places. First, I read a book by Marcia Ascher on ethnomathematics called Mathematics Elsewhere. It talked about different cultures’ calendar systems. For example, the Trobriand Islanders rely on the biological clock of marine annelids to set their calendar. I thought a lot about how the simplest act of scheduling relies on a mutually understood timekeeping system and cultural norms about being on time (or not).

Calendrical warfare came partly from the notion that dates come to hold particular significance in a given culture. I didn’t read Peter Watson’s War on the Mind: The Military Uses and Abuses of Psychology until after I’d written Ninefox Gambit, but it shows that the idea of exploiting other cultures’ special celebration dates in warfare for extra psychological effect is not a new idea.

Finally, I got the idea that different calendars induce different magical systems from vector calculus in college. It’s been a long time, but I was fascinated by gradients and vector fields, so I had this idea that at each point in space-time, you would have an associated set of laws of magic based on what calendar was dominant at that point.

The social landscape within the hexarchate is an interesting mix – what inspired the blend of ‘houses’ and hierarchical autocracy?

The hexarchate was always going to be a horrible police state because I wanted my characters to have something to rebel against. The houses, or factions, were inspired primarily by Alderac Entertainment Group’s Legend of the Five Rings (L5R), a roleplaying game and collectible card game (soon to be relaunched as a Living Card Game by Fantasy Flight Games) that I played for years.

L5R takes place in a fantasy samurai setting with zombies and dragons, and it has clans with different specialties, from the Crane, who dominate the courts with their artisans and duelists, to the Lion, who are honorable warriors with a strong connection to their ancestors. I loved the way that the clans gave people an immediate way to connect to the setting. Admittedly, I’m not sure anyone is going to identify with the hexarchate’s factions, because they’re pretty evil!

There’s a lot of political intrigue within Ninefox Gambit but also suggestions of a much larger universe – will we see more outside of the hexarchate?

Not much, unfortunately. We only really see glimpses of the world outside the hexarchate, mainly because there was so much plot already I ran out of space to do more than hint at anything else.

The ‘servitors’ also seem to be more than they appear – if it’s not a spoiler – will their importance become clearer in the next books?

Yes! They have important roles in the next two books, even if most of the characters don’t realize what’s going on.

Lastly, when is the next book available and where else can we find your work?

According to Rebellion’s website, the next book, Raven Stratagem, is due out in June 2017.

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There’s world building and then there’s world building; Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit falls firmly in the latter category. It’s a stunning piece of creativity that melds futuristic ideas of technology and the feel of an epic space opera with the ephemeral and magical vibe of pure fantasy. Add in to that a complicated relationship to mathematics and ideas of game theory, you’ll be somewhere close to what Ninefox Gambit achieves. Yet, it does so much more.

Cheris, a Kel soldier, is made a pawn in the schemes of the ruling hegemony as it seeks to destroy the rot of heresy within one of it’s star system citadels. Shuos Jedao, a long dead, mad general, is a data ghost resurrected and implanted into such pawns to crush uprisings and rebellions. However, Cheris is a formidable mathematician and Jedao is far from insane. Together the pair are forced into a game of far-reaching politics and terrible consequences.

From the outset the application of unique symbols and signifiers, far from the normal tropes of sci-fi, give the novel a wondrous appeal that grips the imagination tighter and tighter as the story gathers pace. While on the surface Cheris and Jedao engage in a siege action against the heretics, where we get to learn more about the math based technology (a fascinating feature) and hierarchy of archetypes (like Kel and Shous) it is the underlying plot that slowly and ominously surfaces to produce such a memorable conclusion.

Yoon Ha Lee possesses an amazing talent for prose, adding a tumbling poetry to the stark rigidness of the society she has created. Yet her ability to weave the story and hide the twists and turns of her plot so effectively was refreshing. Ninefox Gambit is epic fantastic sci-fi at it’s best; it’s full of politics, space warfare, treachery and revenge. The book is an astounding work of creativity, sumptuous writing and thrilling story telling. As the opening of a proposed trilogy, Ninefox Gambit promises to be the start of an awesome series.

Review copy
Published by Solaris Books

Malcolm F. Cross, author of Dog Country, reviewed here, has very kindly taken the time to write an intriguing insight into the thinking behind his exceptional debut novel.

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Democracy by the dollar: Mercenaries, crowdfunded regime change as part of the service economy, and why I wrote about gengineered dog-soldiers in Azerbaijan.

January 2011. For the people on the ground, the Arab Spring was (and continues) to change the very fabric of their lives. It meant a lot more to them, and always will, but it changed my life too. I wasn’t a protestor, just watching it take over the news cycle. And it got me thinking. I wanted to do something about the brutality and the bravery I saw, something about the issues that had never affected me and the struggles I would never have to fight for. I wanted to make their story my own, and I couldn’t. Maybe, I realized, I shouldn’t.

But isn’t that the story that is mine? The story of the white westerner intervening where he (inevitably he, because this culture I’m part of has systematically failed its women) wasn’t wanted? In a place he didn’t — couldn’t — understand?

Whether it’s Vietnam, the Gulf, Bosnia, or Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Libya, Kenya, the Congo, Nigeria or even Ireland, the modern military policy of intervention away from home is a thorny one. One that can compellingly be argued has done more harm than good. Much of it is couched in terms of bringing about the downfall of dictatorial regimes, arguably all in an attempt to recapture the moral high ground of Hitler’s defeat in 1945. The search for that high ground has poured fuel into the engines of hatred, racism, and human suffering.

It’s a story that’s changing, however. Both for the better and the worse. The rise of the private military company, the sanitised way to refer to guns for hire, is impacting interventionism.

Look back to ‘Mad’ Mike Hoare, explaining his part in the 1960s Congo Crisis by saying,

“Killing communists is like killing vermin. Killing African nationalists is like killing animals. I don’t like either of them. My men and I killed between five and ten thousand Congolese rebels during the twenty months I spent in the Congo.” – http://www.massviolence.org/chronology-of-the-democratic-republic-of-congo-zaire-1960-1997#outil_sommaire_1)

Now compare that to Tim Spicer, speaking about the 1997 Sandline Affair of Papua New Guinea,

“I’ve always said that in Papua New Guinea and Sierra Leone there was nothing wrong with what Sandline was doing because we were there at the request of the democratically elected governments. But it attracted a lot of attention and played into the hands of people who felt that this was not a good way of doing things. The idea was well before its time. There was a huge amount of suspicion, mistrust and poor connotation attached to the security business at that time.” – ( http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/may/20/comment.military )

There are those fighting to turn private military companies, PMCs, into a regulated industry. Open, honest, as dependable and morally upright as any national army. On the other hand, Blackwater Security has been rebranded twice, first as Xe Services, and then as Academi, after the well-publicised killings in 2007.

Somewhere between the rise of PMCs, the Arab Spring, and the shifting nature of capitalism, I found the story I wanted to turn into my debut novel, Dog Country.

It seemed so logical to me. It still does — not that I really think it’s a workable system. Libya’s people were begging for international aid, much as Syria’s are now, desperate to overthrow the dictator over their heads. And while poverty is a major problem in these nations, there’s still money. A fond assumption I have is that almost everyone has five dollars. It might be a huge sum, or a meagre one, but whether it’s saved over weeks or fished out of pocket change, a person has five dollars. There are more than five million people in Libya — twenty five million dollars buys a hell of a lot of military hardware.

I checked – Kickstarter prohibits crowdfunding for weapons, but it doesn’t prohibit funding people capable of holding weapons.

There are some funny ideas in this world — there are Libertarians who believe, genuinely, that the free market economy can function as a form of governance in and of itself. I don’t really agree, but what would a working free market government, rather than a failed one, actually look like?

Assuming a state had formed on that basis, its free-market security forces would naturally be willing to fight someone else’s wars. And, assuming no monopolies or profiteers — very unlikely, but let’s make that assumption — they could provide this service cheaply and efficiently.

So. Why not?

Why not crowdfund the revolution?

Why not write a story about the kind of person this capitalist culture might create as a product, and send them off to explore what this kind of interventionism might be like? After all, western culture and toxic masculinity push very hard at turning young men into people willing to do violence and eschew emotional intimacy. Given genetic engineering, why bother breaking young men into shape when it’s possible to build someone from scratch? Or skip some development time and start with a dog. After all, we’ve been genetically modifying dogs to make them into what we want for the entirety of human history.

The only question I had left was where I’d send my corporate-designed soldiers. I wound up going through a list of authoritarian regimes, and I picked one off the top — Azerbaijan. It was an arbitrary choice, one I’m not entirely comfortable with fictionalizing given the wealth of human rights abuses the Aliyev regime are perpetrating even now, but in a way that made it a good fit for the story I wanted to tell.

A story about western interventionism that didn’t whitewash away the damage interventionism can bring about, a story about people-powered revolutions. More importantly, a story about the experiences of those who leave their homes, travel around the world to a place they never knew existed, and fight in wars they have no reason to care about.

Because of interventionism, there is a generation of (mostly) men who now know what it is to be an alien stranger, not entirely wanted, far from home. Dog Country is, I hope, a story about finding a way to come home afterward.

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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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Malcolm Cross wrote a brilliant and unique take on the post-apocalypse with his story Orbital Decay. He has now published a novel that has been released today on Amazon Kindle. Check out the blurb below..

A crowdfunded civil war is Azerbaijan’s only hope against its murderous dictatorship. The war is Edane Estian’s only chance to find out if he’s more than what he was designed to be.

He’s a clone soldier, gengineered from a dog’s DNA and hardened by a brutal training regime. He’d be perfect for the job if an outraged society hadn’t intervened, freed him at age seven, and placed him in an adopted family.

Is he Edane? Cathy and Beth’s son, Janine’s boyfriend, valued member of his MilSim sports team? Or is he still White-Six, serial number CNR5-4853-W6, the untroubled killing machine?

By joining a war to protect the powerless, he hopes to become more than the sum of his parts.

Without White-Six, he’ll never survive this war. If that’s all he can be, he’ll never leave it.

The premise has me intrigued and I’ve already got Dog Country lined up in the teetering to-be-read pile.