by John G. Henry
John G. Henry is better known as Jack Campbell, author of the Lost Fleet series. As a big fan of the series (one of the few military scifi series that I can read), I sought out Stark’s War once it showed up on my radar (sort of late, as I was too busy looking for Jack Campbell, not John G. Henry!) But I was not disappointed. Stark’s War is a different type of war. Instead of giant fleet battles in hostile enemy territory, we have small front line conflicts on the moon told from the perspective of Sgt. Ethan Stark. Henry takes the lessons from the past few decades and moves the timeline up a century, to where the USA dominates the world still as the lone superpower (ran by corporate interests), but the rest of the world has turned to the moon to get resources outside of US influences. Then, the US invades the moon on behave of its corporate masters, and thus Stark is on the front lines. A sort of stalemate happens after the first battle, causing things to spiral off mission an into the inevitable result.
In this Brave New World, tax rates are low low low, but the public demands the government provide for many things. To raise revenue, the army has turned to broadcasting real time video of battles. The officers for the squads are entirely political, and care little about the welfare of their unit and only about punching whatever tickets they need to get the next promotion. Stark must deal with all these problems, as well as faulty equipment and battle training on the moon’s lower gravity and Stark’s own demons from the past.
Despite the fact this is a totally different series, and written way before the Lost Fleet series, I kept thinking this was John Geary on the moon. There is even his own Tanya Desjan/Victoria Rione combo in the form of Vic Reynolds. But the tone was different, and the front line perspective gave Stark’s War a different flavor than the Lost Fleet books. As things reach to a head in the last 3rd, and the latest brilliant plan of Synergy Warfare happens, I sort of saw what Henry may be doing. In the interests of not spoiling things, I won’t say, but let’s just say there is another famous scifi book that takes place on the moon, and they might not be to happy with what goes down here. But too bad.
Stark’s War is a good piece of military scifi that is as realistic as you can get in future predicting. Some of the predictions have moved to being more accurate in the intervening ten years since it was originally published. It will probably appeal only to those who like military scifi, but as it is a quick read it could be a good jumping on point for those curious about the genre, though I’d still suggest starting with the Lost Fleet books.
Books I Done Been Reading! name shamelessly stolen from Vault of Buncheness