reading Myke Cole’s debut, Shadow Ops:
Control Point (my review, Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon) in 2012, the
sequel, Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier
(Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon) immediately became a must-read for me.
However I can’t help but notice that everyone else seems to think as highly of
Cole as I do – a quick check of blogs that I follow will find that most have
reviewed Fortress Frontier already.
And generally, I agree with what they say – it’s a great book. It’s an
improvement over Control Point, and
the new protagonist is one I like a lot better. The world is bigger, the
adventure more epic, and the depth of thought is still there. I called Shadow Ops this generation’s The Forever War, and with the sequel,
these books really are a story for the current generation, one that struggles
with the might of the government, the threat of terrorism, and the loss of
freedom. These books make me think.
review saturation had sapped my enthusiasm for writing a review. I couldn’t
find anything new to add to the conversation. Yep, Cole is awesome, the book is
awesome, go read it. Do I really need to say it too?
thought about things and then my contribution to the conversation finally clicked
into place. I imagine I was somewhat inspired by this review over at Tor.com.
There is a short discussion of criticism of the book, which stands out because
of the relative lack of them in reviews for Fortress
Frontier. The discussion mentions that Cole’s world is a man’s world with
relatively few female characters (dare I use the word ‘token’?). Well, that’s
not my focus here, but it’s certainly worth noting and discussing in its own
thread through all of those reviews I’ve mentioned above is that they like the
protagonist (Colonel Bookbinder) that Cole focuses on in Fortress Frontier a lot better than the protagonist (Oscar) from Shadow Ops. I share this feeling – I enjoyed
Bookbinder much more. If you go back and search out reviews of Shadow Ops, the biggest criticism that
you’re going to come across is a dislike for Oscar. Take another look at all
these reviews I’m mentioning – they are written by white people*. Take a look
at Bookbinder (white) and Oscar (black). Now, there are lots of reasons why I
think Bookbinder is a character that more can relate to. There are lots of
examples of Cole simply improving as a writer. But I’m not going to talk about
any of them. I’m simply going to point this out – the near-universal opinion
that Bookbinder is a more enjoyable protagonist than Oscar is essentially has a
direct correlation to race.
Tell me I
imagining things. Tell me that it’s a coincidence and not real (after all,
remember, I’m a white guy who likes Bookbinder a lot more as well). But, the
more I think on it, the more troubled I am about it.
And do you
know what? This is just one way that Myke Cole’s books have got me thinking. It
may not be what he intended (or hell, maybe it is), but it’s there. And it’s
yet another reason why people should read his books. In my review of Control Point I compared Cole with
Haldeman. I’ll make another comparison now (and I try to never make comparisons
in reviews, but I’ve got to mix things up too) – Myke Cole is the most exciting
SFF author to come along since Joe Abercrombie. And considering all the great
authors that have entered the scene over the past few years, that’s high
just how many SFF review bloggers out there aren’t white?