Hello Again Readers! I’m here again to explore the world of science fiction through the epic and wonderful medium of the novel. This time we will be investigating futuristic space warfare in Bennet R. Coles Virtues of War. This is my first time delving into the realms of Military Sci-Fi novel form. Through thrilling action and fast-paced danger will our heroes survive and complete their mission with success or will it be outright destruction and war? Let’s take a look into the chaos and anarchy of Virtues of War.
Our story begins with our main character Lieutenant Katja Emmes, operations officer of the fast attack craft Rapier, investigating the Terran Colonies of Sirius and Centauria for weapons smuggling and acts of rebellion. During this mission, reckless decisions and rash actions escalate leading to combat and war, throwing Katja into an atmosphere of chaos and destruction. Together she along with Sublieutenant Jack Mallory, Lieutenant Charity Brisebois and Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane are brought to their limits to save hostages, control the eruption of battle and survive through the dangers of this conflict. Will they successfully repair the damage between the colonies? Will they regain control of their mission? And can they defeat their rebellious enemies?
When I started reading this novel, I found that the genre was very well researched and captured the atmosphere and setting of a futuristic military space adventure. As started above, I have never read a novel that dealt with this specific science fiction story. My knowledge of military rank, terminology and specific plot devices was limited, but with the glossary notes provided at the front of the novel I was able to follow the plot without confusion or questions. The world surrounding the story was filled with great detail that brought the setting to life and made it very realistic. The climax in particular is quite exciting and suspenseful. However, I felt that detail and specifics were paid more to the plot and world of the story than the main characters.
When we first meet our heroine Katja Emmes, we know nothing about her or where she is coming from. We see her in this dangerous environment and how she reacts to the situations and people around her, but not who she is as a person. At the start of the book, when she first shoots and kills the two unarmed targets in Cerberus while on her mission, she doesn’t display any thoughts or emotions as to what she has done or how it is affecting her. Now I know she is a soldier who comes close to death and a woman working with a lot of male officers, so being reserved, stand-offish and emotionless goes with the job. But we don’t even get to see what she is going through in her inner psyche. We aren’t given any back story, what’s she’s been through, why she chose this job, what her goals are, what she wants or hopes to be, what she’s afraid of or anything that reflects her individual personality.
Later on we get a little bit of an insight to her emotions when she thinks back on the kill or when she first experiences combat, but it is very limited and doesn’t go into much detail. Leading up to the war and when combat breaks out, we see that she has an attraction to her Commanding Officer Thomas Kane, but even that is very vague. Throughout the story Katja is very isolated and doesn’t connect well to the other officers around her. Without inner thoughts or personality to examine why she is so isolated, Katja just appears to be wooden and un-relatable to her readers. We have to be able to connect or relate to her or we lose reasons to care or hope for her to succeed.
Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane is another character that lacks detail and inner psyche. We get a little bit of where he is coming from with a slight insight into how he got to where he is and how he is connected to others through his history with Lieutenant Sean Duncan and Captain Eric Chandler; as well as his reaction to Katja’s actions. But his character also comes off a little vague and distant. These characters don’t outline how they feel or think as a reaction to what is going on around them.
That being said, Sublieutenant Jack Mallory and Lieutenant Charity Brisebois (Breeze) do not share these flaws. Pilot Jack is more well-rounded with his wise-cracking personality and general attitude towards his job and the people he works with. He is very entertaining to follow on his course within the story and reads more like a real person. Breeze also has a realistic personality because she has a very detailed inner thought process and expresses how she feels about her surroundings, co-workers and the chaotic situations around her. Unfortunately, these two characters do not get as much attention as Katja or Thomas. I feel that for fans of this genre these details would not prevent them from enjoying the story and action, but for someone new to this kind of science fiction it’s definitely needed.
If you are someone who enjoys thrilling military action, fast-paced chaos or are a fan of military science fiction, then this is the book for you. But if you are new to the genre (like myself), you might have trouble connecting to the main characters of this novel. Virtues of War is an action packed adventure of war for the experienced Military Sci-Fi reader.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!