SFF

Spaceside

Harper Voyager. (Planetside, Bk. 2). Sept. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9780062694683. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062694690. SF
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Col. Carl Butler, known as the “Butcher of Cappa” after the events in Planetside, is retired, divorced, and has a cushy job in a corporation that conducts battle simulation bonding retreats. He’s bored, depressed, and drinking way too much. Until his boss gives him a mission to investigate a security breach—at their biggest rival. Butler finds a contact but discovers little—until his source is killed. And Butler starts seeing the ghosts of his victims. He keeps investigating, his mission gets militarized, and he’s kidnapped and offered as a sacrifice to the survivors of his victims. Butler knows he’s slated for death but feels alive for the first time in two years. And he just might find a piece of redemption. This military sf/mystery mashup is driven by the universe-weary voice of old soldier Butler, haunted by his last mission but too stubborn to let go. Through his perspective, we experience both his darkness and his determination to see through an investigation that will probably get him killed but that he hopes will balance out his guilt.
VERDICT Butler’s wry commentary on the military establishment, corporate skullduggery, and life in general feels honest and real. Highly recommended for military sf lovers, who will savor his perspective and probably want to buy the man a drink.

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