Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Gavin Smith, Veteran (2010)

A chunky book that reads quickly, this: our narrator is a British Genetic Infantryman (in effect, that is; Smith doesn't call him that), a veteran from an interstellar Starship-Trooperish war against insectile 'Them', who joins a team of wise cracking types to track down an alien infiltrator. It's reminiscent of Richard Morgan, although without having Morgan's heft or seriousness. Some nice touches (we start in Dundee, for instance; or rather in an oil-rig shanty town just off Dundee), some sharp dialogue, with a little bit of slackness and redundancy. But the meat of the meal is stuff like this:
'C'mon, c'mon!' Jess said through gritted teeth and then fired through the wall as she dived top the filthy carpet. I barely had time to register the huge shadow outside the window when the ruby-red light cut through the building at what would have been waist height. I was already down low, as were Pagan and Morag, but I saw Elspeth's torso begin to smoke. I don't think he had time to realise what was happening to him. He just sank to his knees and then the top part of his body fell off and he hit the carpet face first.
And this:
There were two heavily armoured gun cupolas of the roof rails. Each one had a chain-fed 30-millimetre rotary cannon. The left one also had a plasma cannon and the right a 20-millimetre railgun.
My acquisition software promised me a target-rich environment as Berserks swamed into the cave mouth ... I fired, shifted target, fired another burst, and moved to the next target as 20-millimetre rounds from my railgun tore Them apart. Rounds from Balor's 30-millimetre railgun flew over my head as he provided longer bursts.
Now, I have an interest in novels about war, and have written more than one myself; but I'm not the ideal audience for this sort of thing (which is to say: I look for other things in a war story than this novel offers). But most readers are not like me, and many will enjoy this very much: professionally handled, fast-paced, with vim in the dialogue and spec-rich violence. Plus, as you can see from the cover, Smith's name is literally made out of razor blades, so I don't intend to cross him.

1 comment:

魏江伶魏江伶 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .