05.10.2011

Gust Front - kicking the horses' ass

A second tome of Posleen series written by John Ringo. It deals with probing force of Posleen horde attacking the Earth - more precisely United States and the military response to it. This is certainly not a great literature - and it does not pretend to be such. On the other hand, Gust Front is a terrific piece of military science fiction/technothriller written by a soldier. The writing is clean and dry, with long description of military tactics and hardware. The story is presented through a wide array of characters – mostly military types with little characterization or character development. I must admit that I was at loss frequently at who is who – chapters are short and locations and characters are changing with a wild pace. The first part of the book deals with preparation to the upcoming invasion – story is slow and concentrates on issues of military units organization and backstabbing among military “Brass” on how the war should be conducted. In a typical way traditionalist believe that might of US Army is enough to crush the invaders even if they sport superior technology. It is a really cool aspect of the story – how the military reacts to the new type of threats and repeats the blunders that occurred each time in the history when more progressive force was attacking one with traditional attitude. Here the military problem is bit ironic – Posleens are masters of Blitzkrieg and Humanity cannot fight a mobile war against them – the proper “modern” response is to fight them using cities as fortresses and attitudes more akin to those presented by generals of World War I.
I felt a little bit tired by the pre invasion part – not too much though. Ringo took a chance to talk a little bit about societal changes imposed by the external threat and I really enjoyed short excursion of the main character cpt. Michel O'Neal to the Florida. Still I have never been to military so the descriptions of problems within military structure left me somewhat confused.
Then the invasion starts and action accelerates to a neck-breaking pace. This part is pure carnage – descriptions of heroic fight, amazing acts of cowardice, sacrifice, stupidity. I have never participated in war and I hope I never have to, but strangely this fictional descriptions feel very real. It is a conflict shown through the eyes of the soldiers – those fully aware that they have to sacrifice their life to protect their homeland. At times touching, at times infuriating. Still – it did not left me indifferent.
I wish there was, perhaps, more character development and more Posleen side of view. Still – characters die like flies, so it feels somewhat fitting.
There are some things that I feel are sub-par – Ringo lays pipe for the future books and hints at secret plots within Federation that on the face of it, supports Humankind. It piques my interest but it never develops in something more than hints. Also, there are some ridiculously unbelievable moments – mainly having to do with 8 year old commando girl Cally. Still, given that in the future she will become master assassin, perhaps it is understandable.
Finally – book is not really ending with a cliffhanger – there will be full scale invasion but main characters stories are for now resolved. I cannot imagine though not picking another tome of Posleen series in the future. I am sucker for military SF. At risk of sounding obvious if you are not into this sort of the things you probably give Gust Front a wide berth. Otherwise “Let their yellow blood run cold...”