Virtues Of War

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Books -

Spot the ironic ti­tle

Re­lease Date: 26 June

448 pages | Pa­per­back/ ebook Au­thor: Ben­nett R Coles Pub­lisher: Ti­tan Books

A new au­thor kicks off

a new tril­ogy, a mil­i­tary space epic set in an alien- free uni­verse where war rages be­tween Earth and its colonies. Virtues Of War tight­ens its fo­cus to four Ter­ran per­son­nel – two men, two women – and their ten­sions and ri­val­ries as the con­flict heats up. Un­for­tu­nately, the war is en­vi­sioned more im­pres­sively than the char­ac­ters.

The book starts on a provoca­tive note, with one of the quar­tet – a fe­male Lieu­tenant called Katja – strik­ing into en­emy ter­ri­tory and blow­ing the head off an un­armed civil­ian to ter­rorise the lo­cals. This has the risky ef­fect of get­ting much of the read­er­ship to root against Katja and her com­rades ( it’s cer­tainly not clear that their war is just). But it’s also one of the few in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter beats, as the plot plunges through bloody hero­ics and soapy love- tri­an­gles. Some of the con­fronta­tions are more like af­ter­noon TV cat­fights than gritty war drama.

Virtues Of War is most im­pres­sive in its big- can­vas prose spec­ta­cle, whether on the ground or in space, with titanic kalei­do­scopes of burn­ing star­ships, killer droids and rain­ing fire. ( There’s also a bit of stuff with higher- di­men­sional weapons, although the “Eureka!” mo­ment which sparks it is un­for­tu­nately laugh­able.) But even in a space opera, there’s a limit to how long you can ap­plaud the scenery when the story in front of it just isn’t that ex­cit­ing. An­drew Os­mond Au­thor Ben­nett R Coles cer­tainly has the CV to write mil­i­tary fic­tion – he served 15 years as an of­fi­cer in the Cana­dian navy.

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