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First Strike Paperback – September 23, 2014
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This book is perhaps a little less complex and a bit lighter on the characters than most of his other books but it is a good straightforward space action story. The core of the story is humanity kicking some serious behinds after being bullied by a overconfident alien race bent on expansion. This kind of story is right up my alley so it was of course easy for me to take a liking to it and maybe overlook the fact that it was a somewhat lighter read than many of the authors books.
I fail to understand why some reviewers feel it is disjointed and that there are too many characters and so on. It is nothing of the kind. There are really not that many characters compared to many books. The characters themselves might be a wee bit on the light side in terms of depth and development though but I think they are just right for this type of book. The story is quite straightforward and follows a quite logical thread. Somewhat predictable perhaps but, as I wrote above, it is my kind of story and I like that it moves forward at a fairly brisk pace without too many politicians and dimwits ruining the plans for the good guys.
In short, the humans kick some serious behinds despite being heavily outmatched, matching quantity by quality in terms of knowledge of warfare and imagination in using the technology they have been given. In the background there is a mysterious race said to be in decline but that have bootstrapped most of the “younger races” into space. I would say that there is a quite interesting scenario set up for future books in this universe and I would not mind if more were written. That said the author already have a number of good series running so I would be a bit scared of him overstretching himself with yet another series.
I have read many of Mr. Nuttall's novels and I have liked many of them and not cared for a few of them. This one is my favorite out of all of them and I really enjoyed it. The characterizations are not brilliant, but they serve. The real guts of this novel is the fascinating speculation of humanity's political and military reaction to being visited by an advanced alien race, and the resulting Galactic power struggle between Earth and an aggressive neighboring race. I could not put this one down so I am awarding it five stars for the "Space Opera" genre. While this story is self-contained and ends satisfactorily, a sequel is called for and I would very much look forward to one. RJB.
First, the positive. While "First Strike" is not my favorite of his work (that I've read), I do think it is his most evenhanded, balanced work. Pacing was spot on, the tech and war tactics/strategy was dealt with practically, the plot works.
But. I don't think Mr. Nuttall has found all of his 'voice' yet. My belief is that he has a much bigger mind and imagination then he is able to communicate, yet. In his mind, i suspect the characters are much richer, the plots deeper, the sociology wider. I am waiting for him to get it all to paper, and I wait patiently - because I think he's gonna get there and effing blow me away. :-)
Also, and to be fair, I'm comparing him to my readership of sci-fi, which is 49 years deep and averages 2-3 boks/week over that period. I'm comparing him to Niven and Pournelle, Cherryh, Clarke, Brin, Card, Panshin, Harrison, Martin, Zelazny, Herbert, Robinson, Steele, Aspirin, Moon, Lynn, Dickson and Bester, just to name a very few. That's a hell of a grading curve.
"First Strike" isn't up to those standards, but still a fun read. Mr. Nuttall isn't at the top of his game, yet. But I wait patiently, with a smile. Because I think he's got the goods, and in the long run, he's gonna stand with all those authors I'm stacking him up against. Mr. Nuttall, please keep writing. :-)