Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: The Light Brigade

So I didn’t get on with The Stars are Legion, so much so that I can’t even remember what it was about (even the review doesn’t help). But anyway, I got on with this one much better. It’s less weird, though it’s all time travel-y and you have to piece things together as you go.

The main character is Dietz, who joins a corporate army, because it’s the future and there are only corporations now (I’m somewhat bored of this concept). The technology they have though is the big maguffin of the story. Essentially it’s like beaming (like in Star Trek) and soldiers are beamed or “dropped” from one place to another to fight in this big war (again “the Martians” who are basically non-corporate citizens). But Dietz experiences things differently, almost every time they get beamed, Dietz ends up somewhere else in time.

As conceits go, it’s pretty fun. It really gets into high gear after we get through all the boring basic training, where Dietz is a bit too annoying to be likeable. The first drop goes wrong, they were supposed to go to Mars and Dietz ends up somewhere else. Slowly things get clearer as we gain more insight into how the war progresses.

However, there are also bits of clunky exposition that I feel could have been handled badly. There’s one point where one of the other soldiers tell Dietz about a conspiracy theory about all the corporations, and it’s just very clunky. Like couldn’t that have been woven in more elegantly into the story. I guess not.

Anyway, it starts to drag a bit near the end, as the whole story comes full circle. I liked the middle, more than the end, and maybe with a bit more finesse there would have been much more satisfying conclusion. I found the end all a bit strange and somewhat out of character with the mechanics of how the drops worked. I can’t say what without making all the spoilers, but I suppose the scaling up of the drops and how Dietz unlocks the mystery of how the drops affected them felt rushed and not that well explained.

But okay, it’s still interesting and thought provoking. Though, I do tire of the military paradigms and endless, corporate wars. I think I just want stories that imagine a better future.

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