Don't get me wrong, the underlying message and premise of this story was solid. Unfortunately, the author repeatedly slapped his audience in the head with his messages. Nothing subtle here, and it did the story a disservice.
The book did entertain me, but it could have been much more nuanced. The narrator was pretty good, but was a bit deadpan when not doing voices.
So, if you're interested in seeing what one author thinks of what military / civilian/ governmental relationships will look like in the distant future, give this one a listen, but don't expect too much.
Of note, the author does indicate this is his first novel, so you must take that into consideration. I'm assuming his writing style has matured since then.
Okay to be fair, the author of this book is one of my favorites military Sci-fi writers, and with the slew of bad military hero worship books out there (Honor Harrington series for example), anyone who is able to put together a decent series like the "Black Jack" series of books deserves to have their other works considered. So with some trepidation and thought hesitation, I cautiously gave this book a try as it is the first in a series of earlier books by the Author.
And ..it shows. The author though does warn the reader that this is an earlier work, done under a pseudonym while he was still in the military. But, despite the warning, I was quite unprepared by the treatment given to the officer ranks in this book. Clearly John G H had an axe to grind with the officers he encountered in the navy during his time in the military, as it comes across clearly in this story.
But...it comes across a bit too vindictively, intentionally or not, I am not entirely sure, but its there. The officers are all one dimensional, self absorbed butt kissing incompetent malcontents whose only purpose is to manipulate a makeshift political process of promotions at the expense of the lives of the enlisted who are all more competent than their superiors.
The book made me quite uncomfortable with its treatment of the officers, being a USMC Veteran with experience on both sides of the command structure. I started as enlisted and ended my career as an Officer. And while I identified with some of the authors bluntly written in concerns about the officer corps, the depiction of the officer in the story was just too unrealistic to allow me to enjoy this story. The depiction of the enlisted in contrast was also even more unrealistic.
As an allegory it just doesn't work. As a cautionary tale, it also doesn't work. Either way I listened through the entire story as I believe there was some valid (if not so salient) points being made about the unchecked allowance of political gamesmanship in the selection of promotions within the ranks. But uncaring, unfeeling selfish egomaniacs that the book literates officers as was too far from reality for me to absorb, which made the book very difficult o take seriously.
I will try the next book, simple because I know this wasn't JGH best and was one of his first works, I predict I will see an evolution in the writing as these books progress. I am not sure if this would be helpful to anyone. Its just my opinion after all.
The concept of the complete ineptitude of all officers, yet all enlisted are geniuses in waiting and the world would better if only they were in charge just got old. The situation is true and does happen, but the blanket, overall assumption and presentation that it was a constant in the universe just made it hard to suspend belief enough to enjoy the story.
Had the issue been a small collection of ignorant officers (and with the remoteness of the moonbase it could have been pulled off) it would have been more believable, but by making it sound as if the entire military organization was that bad all the time it just came across as unrealistic.....and this is from someone who loves SciFi and Fantasy.
Yes, I still love the action scenes even if the overarching story is not plausible.
If the overall theme is the same by the third book it will just be too boring.
I found the war sequences to be entertaining and the stuff in between to be cumbersome. However, I quickly got through the audiobook and promptly ordered the next book in the series. So if you like military science fiction and can overlook some weaknesses, pick it up.
I love that Jack captured the essence of a soldier's view of the world, and how that can go wrong when officers become politicians that treat them like numbers -- losing the battlesense that you can only get with real time on the ground -- not micro-managing from afar.
Stark himself is what soldiers aspire to be.
Executive Recruiter 20+ Years, father to six, spouse to one, grandfather to 4; specialist in Bipolar 2, Panic, Anxiety (OCD) & Addictions.
Audible productions are judged (by me at least) for the quality and consistency of the story line through multiple volumes (when appropriate) and then by the quality of the narrator. The input of the production unit, which is in the background and not seen or heard by we readers is of course relevant.
Stark's War is the first novel by this author and the first in a three volume series.
Elements of the story are quite gripping. The "US" and the "Corporations" have occupied the Moon and the military is often used as cannon fodder.
Characters are not typically well developed which is a pity as there a number of characters in each novel which seem to lend themselves to further treatment.
My remarks are made as I conclude the first volume in the series. Maybe later volumes will improve on this first book.
I am glad that I read the author's seven volume Lost Fleet series first. These are highly readable with many interwoven story lines.
Understand, that I like Jack Campell's writing a lot but the Stark series is not to my taste. The writing is well executed but the subject matter itself is the sort of thing one would expect from a person working out a psychological problem rather than spinning a good yarn. Basically, this is a story about how management is full of people who are not very smart, not very nice and only interested in furthering their own interests. This is a theme that gets hammered over and over. And over. While there are certainly a lot of things that can be said about micro management after a while it gets a bit boring.
Well written. The theme itself was simply not interesting.
A book starting a very interesting story of how wrong can it get. It reminds me a lot of George Orwells 1984.
I'm an instructor in the business college at a university in the Pacific Northwest. Enjoy hard scifi and books about how the brain works.
Other reviewers have mentioned that there's a lot of whining, and oh boy, there is. That's the drawback. It's also sort of one-dimensional on the characters. At one point, Stark says he's a "have a beer, then have another beer" kind of guy when talking about the kind of women he would date, but that's not really how his character comes across, maybe because of how the narrator voices him (very bass and commanding). Stuff I enjoyed: some good humor, interesting take on how the future could play out if technology allows officers to ride shotgun and interact with any soldier during a battle.