Jack McDevitt’s A Talent for War is an unusual science fiction novel.
In a far future humanity has spread to many stars and encountered an alien race called the Ashiyyur, and after what may or may not have been a vast misunderstanding due to the strange psychological make-up of the Ashiyyur, a great war was fought. Emerging as the leader of humanity in this war was Christopher Sim, a man with an uncanny ability to outthink and outfight the aliens.
A Talent for War takes place several hundred years after the cease-fire with the Ashiyyur, and tells the story of Alex Benedict as he follows his deceased uncle’s last wish to investigate discrepancies in the common tale of Christopher Sim. As a backdrop to Benedict’s search for the truth is the looming threat of a new war with the enigmatic Ashiyyur.
The novel is slow and somewhat ponderous as it follows Benedict’s attempts at sorting out the thread of actual events from the war fought several hundred years ago; there is very little action except for, of course, in the turn of events Benedict uncovers, which is where most of the dramatic tension in the novel resides.
All in all, A Talent for War is a refreshing departure from most science fiction, and raises some interesting questions about history and how it can warp the truth of persons and events that it purports to describe, but does feel a bit academic.
Posted Saturday, 19 March, 2005 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.