I read widely and one of my favorite genres is military SF. Unfortunately a lot of the military SF now reads cookie cutter. Insect/Reptile/Cat-like aliens clash with Human Space Navy/Marines. I blame John Ringo. Not that John Ringo did anything to bring this about except write very many military SF books, but you have to blame somebody, and his name is easy to remember. 😉
So Ericka – the same Ericka to whom I was attempting to text before – came to visit us and we went to BN. I asked her for recommendations since she reads more than I do now, and she pulled Tanya Huff’s Confederation of Valor from the shelf. I mostly knew Tanya Huff as one of the founders of the modern UF. A lot of people credit LKH with bringing about the modern incarnation of UF and she definitely made it very popular, but Tanya Huff had beat her to the punch by two years. Guilty Pleasures came out in 1993, and Blood Price came out in 1991. I had no idea she wrote military SF. But Ericka said it was good. Since Ericka is an officer in US Army, when she recommends military SF, I grab it.
Confederation of Valor is an omnibus of first and second novels in the 5-novel Valor Series. It features Space Marines and Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr. Torin is female. She is a Marine. She reads like a Marine. She reads like an NCO. It is glorious.
I inhaled the omnibus. There is a huge conflict going on in the Galaxy between Others, who seem to be an unreasonable war-like empire with a dozen enslaved species at their beck and call and an Interplanetary Confederation consisting of Elder and Mid Races, who have evolved mostly beyond violence. The Interplanetary Confederation tried to reason with Others, but all negotiations failed, so it resorted to extreme measures to protect itself. It brought three war-like Younger Races into its fold: Human, di’Taykan, and Krai, who now make up Navy and Space Marine Corps and hold the Others at bay.
There are di’Taykan, who are elves in space and are one of the most enthusiastic species in the Galaxy when it comes to sexual adventures. There are Krai, who live in colossal trees on their home planet and can and will eat anything. There are hot salvage operators, noisy fox-like reporters, and slow moving, but well-meaning Dornagians. There are officers with and sometimes without a brain, weapons of mass destruction, and mysterious space objects. There are fully fleshed out alien space cultures. Torin Kerr told a general that she couldn’t be an officer because both of her parents were married!
I read the first three books. If you like military SF and you like seeing female noncoms do things noncoms usually do, this is it, right here. The action is great and the understated humor is pitch-perfect. I love it and I mourn the fact that there is only five.
The prose is beautiful too, sparse and clear. I had a bit of writer’s envy.
A warning: the books do have some romance, but it is very light and takes a while to develop. As with most military SF, there are numerous battle scenes, and people do die. Also, they do read like military guys, and it can seem a little odd if you never been around military personnel. As always, your mileage may vary, but I liked it. In fact, I liked it so much, that when Gordon informed me that SWTOR (Star Wars online game) has released a new update, I immediately told him that yes, I want in and I want to be a Space Trooper.
In celebration of this awesome series, I bring you military rules of engagement, as found on the internet.
Marine Corps Rules
1. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
2. Decide to be aggressive enough, quickly enough.
3. Have a plan.
4. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won’t work.
5. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet even your friends…
6. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun whose caliber does not start with a “4.”
7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.
8. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral & diagonal preferred.)
9. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.
10. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
12. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
13. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating your intention to shoot.
Navy SEAL’s Rules
1. Look very cool in sunglasses.
2. Kill every living thing within view.
3. Adjust speedo.
4. Check hair in mirror.
US Army Rangers Rules
1. Walk in 50 miles wearing 75 pound rucksack while starving.
2. Locate individuals requiring killing.
3. Request permission via radio from “Higher” to perform killing.
4. Curse bitterly when mission is aborted.
5. Walk out 50 miles wearing a 75 pound rucksack while starving.
US Army Rules
1. Curse bitterly when receiving operational order.
2. Make sure there is extra ammo and extra coffee.
3. Curse bitterly.
4. Curse bitterly.
5. Do not listen to 2nd LT’s; it can get you killed.
6. Curse bitterly.
US Air Force Rules
1. Have a cocktail.
2. Adjust temperature on air-conditioner.
3. See what’s on HBO.
4. Ask “what is a gunfight?”
5. Request more funding from Congress with a “killer” Power Point presentation.
6. Wine & dine ‘key’ Congressmen, invite DOD & defense industry executives.
7. Receive funding, set up new command and assemble assets.
8. Declare the assets “strategic” and never deploy them operationally.
9. Hurry to make 13:45 tee-time.
10. Make sure the base is as far as possible from the conflict but close enough to have tax exemption.
US Navy Rules
1. Go to Sea.
2. Drink Coffee.
3. Deploy Marines