BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction written and read by author Jack Campbell.
Stark's War was originally published as "by John G. Hemry".
Battle stations! Listen to more in the Stark's War series.
©2000 John G. Hemry; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
Reading or listening, this book is just fun. The listening experience gave an increased sense of fun to a light read. It extended the pleasure over a longer period than I would ordinarily have experience. I read quite quickly and would have ripped through this book in an evening. The audio version gave me more time to savor the story. Even a light story can be enjoyed this way. This is one of the primary selling points about audio books.
This book is similar in tone to the Honor Harrington or John Ringo. It has a fast pace with one problem after another. It differs in that the enemy is never really shown or defined except as perhaps the Establishment. Characters are sketched and too often killed. There is no love interest, sex, any sort of objectionable reference., It does have a definite political overtone as do many of the books in the genre. It is lighter than Honor Harrington and less violent than Ringo.
This is my first experience with his narration. He had a good pace, voice, and diction.
War in Low gravity is the New Frontier for the Corps. One where Stark leads one shot at a time.
It's a good series, light and funny, I recommend it on that basis.
I am greatly enjoying the Lost Fleet series and similarly enjoyed the JAG in space books. But with Stark's War, I could very clearly see that this was a rough introduction to someone who would be a great writer. Most of the plot is forced, unrealistic, and full of ideas without a necessarily compelling story holding them together. I only made it half way through before bailing.
Story: Stark is a Sergeant dealing with a military whose officers are shuffled around too frequently to be competent and whose superiors issue orders from afar and with media approval as a main goal. It means Stark's companions are being needlessly killed through incompetence and apathy. So he decides to take things into his own hands.
The main problem with Stark's War is that Hemry wishes to take the core point that the military will eventually be an incompetent, bureaucratic, self aggrandizing mess - and then push that thought to the nth degree. Every word, action, sentence, dialogue, and character action is to make that point. It gets silly very early when grunts are constantly asking Stark, "Why would they do that, Sarge?" for every idiotic and dangerous decision by the military leaders. From cost cutting leading to faulty equipment, to war maneuvers solely for the point of televising to gain civilian approval, to officers issuing orders from far away and clearly not aware of the actual situation. The book is in serious danger of becoming a parody of itself due to the absence of any intelligence.
The characters are very unlikeable - surprising from a writer known for his engaging everyman. Stark spends most of the time emoting self righteously or completely disobeying orders. We're supposed to cheer him but really, it just makes him look really stupid to have been dumb enough to enlist in the first place. Ayn Rand did this point of view much better with Atlas Shrugged - at least you rooted for the main character.
Honestly, if there is one thing I really dislike in a book, it's when all the characters are stupid. Especially the antagonists - a really cliche moustache-twirling set of villains (read: military officers) only serve to make the protagonist seem equally dumb. At least give him something to really outsmart - not military personnel taken right out of the movie Idiocracy.
I listened to the Audible version of this story and only made it half way through. The narrator did a decent job with the material, especially considering it must have been difficult not to roll eyes all the way through.
too much like real life if or if you every wanted to know what war really is like get this book
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.
There was too much separation between the enlisted and officers. The author did not sell me on the fact decisions were made on made up numbers. A good author would have developed the story line the was remotely believable.
If you are fond of war stories set in a space environment, this is a good start. In the introduction delivered by the writer, he gives his reasons for the why the writing style is what it is. So yes I will recommend it with a big caveat - it is not exactly what you expect ...
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