Saturday, February 25, 2023

Hounded by Kevin Hearne


Hounded by Kevin Hearne, the first book in The Iron Druid series, is an urban fantasy in the same vein as The Dresden Files and the Alex Verus series. 

Atticus O'Sullivan is a two thousand year old druid living in contemporary Arizona. Some time in the distant past, Atticus absconded with a magical sword that belonged to the Celtic god, Aenghus Og. And he's been either running or hiding ever since.

Things start to heat up when two goddesses separately bring warnings that Aenghus has found him and will soon come to kill him. He's then attacked several times until he's forced to stand and fight.

Like Harry Dresden, Atticus O'Sullivan has lots of magical allies and lots of enemies, including werewolves, witches and vampires.  But unlike Dresden, O'Sullivan has two thousand years of magical experience. He knows himself,  his powers, and the people around him. And he has no trouble seeing through most of the enemy's deceptions. Atticus is smart, personable, and resourceful. Exactly the kind of character I enjoy reading about.

Story wise, Hounded doesn't break any new ground. But it's solidly written and entertaining. The one thing that makes Hounded stand out from other urban fantasies is the canine humor. Atticus has a telepathic link with his intelligent Irish wolfhound, who likes to  joke about sausages and French Poodles. Again, nothing new, but entertaining.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Forever War

 The Forever War. details William Mandella's experience of being conscripted into a pointless interstellar war. Madella holds a Phd in physics and planned to become a teacher. But being conscripted ended his plans and his ability to determine the direction of his own life. 

The Forever War is a fish-out-of-water story. The millitary moves Mandella from situation to situation, never giving him a chance get comfortable. He's never given a chance to grow, rise to the occasion, or solve a significant problem. He's a cog in a vast military machine that doesn't care if he lives or dies. This is evident in the callus way half the soldiers die in training before ever seeing real combat. 

After being injured in his first engagement, Madella is released to civilian life. But decades have passed back home, and the world has changed. The government has neglected social reforms to support the war. Crime and inflation are rampant, and Mandella feels more alienated from his home than he did from the military that abused him. He feels forced to reenlist, even though he knows the war is a complete waste.

The Forever War is not the type of story I enjoy, but is one that makes you think. (That's probably why it won the Hugo and Nebula for Best Novel.) The book serves as an allegory for the author's experience in the Vietnam War. And from that perspective, you see how the military industrial complex uses the government to profit off of a war that no one can win. Literally at the expense of people's personal freedoms and social deterioration. 

Not only did this book illustrate the author's experience in the Vietnam War, but you can also see parallels in the more recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This makes The Forever War just as relevant today as it was 45 years ago.

The writer's perspective

From the writer's perspective, The Forever War is a great example of how to show the fictional world through the eyes and actions of the protagonist. There are a few info dumps in the dialog between characters. But they're presented as part of an orientation lecture that shows the world the characters are in.


First published in 1974,