Monday, March 31, 2014

Space Battles! Book Review: Starfire

StarfireStarfire by Dale Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I remember reading some of Dale Brown's earlier Patrick McClanahan stories, and thinking they were a tighter, leaner version of Tom Clancy-esque stories. I only read a few of those earlier novels, but only because I got behind and didn't want to try to catch up.

Starfire continues the Patrick McClanahan world though, and gives it over to the next generation of heroes, including Bradley McClanahan. He's the son of the famed General from the other stories. The narrative does a good job of catching the reader up on major events that lead the world and characters to where they are currently. That was good for me, since it had been some years since I had ready anything in this series.

I remember this series being very real-world military fiction. Cutting edge technology featured heavily in the stories I remember. Starfire goes beyond the cutting edge technology firmly into the near-future science fiction. A near-death character is kept alive inside of a robotic suit of power armor. College students develop an orbit-to-ground power-transmitting device and test it from a military space station, only to realize it makes a really good space-based weapon. And in this story, a new cold war has started over space-based weapons and vehicles.

On the whole, this was a good, fun book. Fans of previous installments will enjoy where the story goes. Fans of Tom Clancy or similar political/military fiction will enjoy this, though it's not as heavy on the political as a Clancy tome.

To nitpick, the narrative is very heavy on detailing the technology and sometimes spends way too much time describing in excruciating detail what is happening. In fact, the opening scene with a character going into space on-board a spaceplane, and docking and boarding a spacestation is one of those too-much-detail scenes. I almost didn't make it through that opening passage. But once I did, the action and actual story-telling picked up. Later sections that went into detail weren't nearly as in-depth as that opening passage and were easily skimmed over. I don't really need to know all the specific manufacturing and deployment history of certain missiles, jets, or whatever, just give me a nice quick overview if what is absolutely relevant to the narrative.

Overall, a good action/military story with a strong space element to the story.

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