Ace, 2019 (2019)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
is relatively near future military SF, set in an Earth devastated by wars in which horrific bioweapons were unleashed (and are being reborn),
. Protagonist Maseo Kaytu grew up in Vila Vela and, after its rebellion, participated as a child in entrapping a military unit. Its members were slaughtered and Vila Vela erased from the face of the Earth. He has never forgotten it and seeks redemption as a member of the military.
hough it takes a while to get a sense of what's going on in this future world, and to understand our hero's backstory,
is thoroughly engrossing once you do. After Vila Vela was destroyed, Kaytu grew up in a refugee camp. Since the military will not accept someone with his background, he volunteers for a Combat Activated Vehicle, a remote controlled vehicle that requires a passenger. CAV volunteers are called '
' and only a very small percentage survive - but survival is a way in to military service.
aytu does survive along with young stemhead addict Ting, who is much more than she seems and is a brilliant hacker. Another key player is Rana, a cadet from an important military family. She despises Kaytu - at first. They and others bond in basic training as Group Aleph. But, as they develop their skills, a new class of remort goes into action, and seem impossible to defeat. All too soon, Group Aleph is up against them. As if that were not enough on his plate, Kaytu is blackmailed into working as a spy.
is an excellent, gripping start to this new series. I look forward to more.
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