Friday, March 1, 2013

Two Space Operas In Different Universes

Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: InvincibleThe Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Invincible, by Jack Campbell. I'm enjoying Campbell's long string of military science fiction, following a war hero forced back into active service after a century in frozen sleep. The writing is fairly stilted, but I like the sincerity and think that it matches the earnest, boy-scoutish demeanor of the main character. I'm also enjoying the blend of gender-neutral society -- this space navy doesn't blink at having women in combat, in command, and in the marines -- and a traditional gender confusion between Black Jack and his wife or any other important female character. In true Heinlein fashion, the women usually know more but are careful of the men about it.

I got a tickle out of the cover, which shows a heroic captain with a big gun and shiny space armor, especially in light of the conversation between Jack and his wife, where she tells him that if he dies she'll carry on by writing a best-selling memoir about her life with him, complete with a cover showing him doing something improbably heroic, "maybe in battle armor. With a gun." Hey, maybe it will turn out that she was writing this whole series!

Killbox (Sirantha Jax Series #4)Killbox, Ann Aguire. I'm also enjoying Aguire's very different space opera story, with the characters leading the rebellion that cracked open society. At this point they are trying to patch things together again, an effort made complicated by the enormous alien invasion heading their way.

The contrasts are delicious -- Jax and her friends are more mercenaries than professional soldiers, and even when they are fighting for the government they don't really understand the military as a society. Jax and her lover decide to break up while they serve together, since they can't work together professionally. But they do it with angst and drama, each worrying that the other is secretly relieved to be alone again. The character's emotions often feel much more honest and realistic -- closer to how people really feel rather than how they should feel in the best of all possible worlds.

I'm enjoying both series, although they tickle very different parts of my brain.

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