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Aggressor Six Kindle Edition
|Length: 274 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I suppose I could quibble about the characters. What were their names again? The ending was abrupt, and the love story did need developing. But I had fun reading Aggressor Six. I couldn’t stop reading it, in fact, until it was over. What’s more, the story is staying with me.
There is a theme here (and in other books by Wil McCarthy) of racing against time to prevent an unimaginably huge calamity, and the procedural myopia we develop under such circumstances. An alien fleet heading toward us? Buckle down everyone and build more laser guns! Train harder! Sleep less! Don’t waste time on chit-chat move move move! Anyone who has experienced a panicked rush like this knows that it causes more damage than it fixes. The implacable advance of death doesn’t demand that we stop having feelings. Precisely the opposite in fact.
Not a youthful race any longer,
We had ceased even to dream
We depart now, depart now
To contemplate our mistake.
The human government tried desperately to understand the alien technology and to find some way to counter or nullify the alien weapons. Using memory retrieval technology, they discovered much about the alien language and social structure. However, most of the alien technology was incomprehensible to human researchers.
In this novel, one small group, Aggressor Six, is dedicated to understanding the aliens by learning to "live and think and spit like the enemy". Captain Marshe Talbott is the queen, Navy Lieutenant Josev Ranes is Drone One, Marine Corporal Ken Jonson is Drone Two, Lieutenant Sopho Yeng is Worker One, Sergeant Roland Hanlin is Worker Two, and Shenna is the Dog. All have had a Broca web implanted with the Waister language loaded and available to their own brains. Sheena, a Martian Retriever, has a vocoder on her collar to help her speak.
Ken Jonson is the only one in the group that has ever had contact with the Waisters, although it has all been during firefights. One of the reasons that he has been selected is his prior interest in acting. At first, he keeps having post-traumatic shocks from his experiences while boarding a Waister ship and subduing the crew. Once he gets beyond the flashbacks, however, he starts trying to think, act and talk like a Waister. Soon the whole group is doing the same.
Captain Talbott's superior, Colonel Jhee, is a by-the-book administrator and doesn't really understand the objective of the group. He threatens to cut their funds on several occasions and soon begins to wonder at their sanity. He also keeps information from them.
Aggressor Six soon starts to produce assessments of enemy objectives, tactics and motives, but Colonel Jhee only wants to know where they will strike and when. He also wants that information yesterday. Whenever Talbott and the group try to explain the necessity of working through the available data, he threatens to bring them up on charges if they don't produce according to his deadlines.
Then Aggressor Six learns that they are not alone, but that two other Aggressor Six groups have been established. Their Waister knowledge insists that they must face the other groups. Colonel Jhee blows his top and locks them into their quarters.
This story is an interesting extrapolation of current techniques of assessing enemy policies and strategies. The human forces also have some advanced technology compared to the present and use it to gain a great deal of data on the enemy mindset. The problem is integrating all this data into usable information, so the Aggressor Six groups were formed.
This novel has a few weaknesses, including the introduction of slowlight, the ghosts, and several scenes involving outside groups. These sections rather distracted from the main story. However, the scenes where Jonson is boarding the scout ship and fighting his way out again definitely contributed to the storyline. Overall, the plot was interesting and ran smoothly, with those few exceptions.
Recommended for McCarthy fans and for anyone else who enjoys military SF involving analysis of enemy intentions and capabilities.