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Jun. 17th, 2006 03:06 pm
threemonkeys: (Waxlion)
On my way across the Tasman last week, I read Conventions of War by Walter Jon Williams. This is the third and final book in the Dread Empire's Fall series. Like Paul McAuley, Williams is a writer who flits from one story type to another within the genre. This series follows the forms of military SF. The first two books were well done by the standards of the sub-genre but every so often you get little hints that Williams is not happy with the standard imperial model of galactic empire that prevail in other similar works. There seem to be too much stupidity and cruelty on the side of the POV characters but there wasn't anything really overt that marked this work as anything other than what was advertised.

In this third book, the gloves are off. One of the POV characters becomes an insurgent fighting an occupying force. The other, apart from trying to solve a murder mystery, spends his time dealing with even more of the above mentioned stupidity and cruelty. I may have read it incorrectly, but to me this is a pretty blatant allegory of the USA and Iraq. As such it is a much better book than the previous volumes. Works with political motivation are prone to forgetting about such basic elements as plot and character, but not in this case. In fact I suspect that a military SF fan, not spotting the political comment, would thoroughly enjoy this book.

I have to say my already high estimation of Williams has crept up a few notches with this work. I thank him for the message, the entertainment and a really effective way of killing hours waiting at Sydney airport.

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