Militarized startups rule the colonized planet Fortuna. No problem for country boy Flint, until his mother gets shot by raiders and lands in hospital. To cope with the disastrous medical costs, Flint enlists in the battle startup industry to get rich in the planet’s number one private industry—warfare.
Flint has to survive the training, and his zealous squad: An exoskeleton-loving super soldier, an anti-human eco sniper, and a pro-robot warhipster. Not to mention the veteran instructor with his humor-based torture training and the anime AI that pitches Flint overpriced firearms even during his sleep. Sounds tough, until Flint learns about his enemies—the dangerously degenerate scavages that threaten his existence. On his crusade to earn money for his mother, Flint discovers the dark secrets behind the planet’s origin. Because on Fortuna, nothing is what it really seems…
This book is somewhat different from my normal diet of military science fiction. It is really a crazy whacky ride into a surreal world of warhipsters (that is what the author calls the main characters and I tend to agree with the name), competing suppliers of military equipment, degenerate brutes and some behind the scenes scheming and secrets just for added flavor.
It is probably a book that would have passed below my radar if the author had not contacted me on Goodreads after reading a few of my reviews and suggested the book to me. He even offered a free copy but since the book is quite reasonably priced on Kindle and I believe in supporting the authors, especially new independent ones, I bought it and downloaded it the normal way.
The story is not an entirely uncommon one. Country boy gets thrown into the deep end and has to learn and adapt…quickly. However that is more or less where the commonality with most of these bread and butter stories stops. In order to save his mother’s life Flint does not really enlist with the traditional military but he enlist to become a kind of “war entrepreneur”, a strange cross between mercenary and businessman. In Flint’s new world everything has a cost and his skills are determined not only by how well he fights but on the return on investment. Use up too many bullets and you might win the battle but loose the contract. Negotiations and purchases can be made in the middle of a battle. That may sound rather dull but the way it is written and the way the story unfolds makes it quite fun reading actually.
The author claims that he does not like tech-stuff in his books. I guess he mostly means technical details and explanations. It shows. The tech is pretty wild, especially their system of ordering and “printing” new weapons, ammo etc. in the middle of the action. Not surprisingly there are zero technical details and it certainly wonders into the twilight zone of believability. The action is pretty much devoid of any real military strategy but more the kind “shoot a lot and then shoot some more”. Personally I prefer a wee bit more believable tech-oriented sci-fi but sure, not all readers like tech-dumps. I do wish the author would cut down on a few of the silly names though. Stuff like “accessing his gizmo” and ammo types called “NeverMissus” bullet is a bit too much on the silly side for this reader. Then again, I guess the “terminology” does fit the style of the book.
The story in all its wackiness actually holds together though. Personally I took a liking for this crazy “Ocelot” and his adventures. There is a bit of mystery behind Flint as well. A mystery which seems to be the reason that Flint actually gets sponsored so that he can begin his training in the first place (everything in Flint’s new world has a cost remember…). On the whole I want to know where the story goes and what happens to Flint and his buddies next. I would say that the book as such is generally well written. The author repeats himself a couple of times but that is minor things. For being a new author (as far as I understand it this is his second book) it is quite well done.
It is light fun reading which was a very enjoyable detour from my normal military sci-fi. If you hesitate whether the book is worth your time I would say go for it. It has rather different fresh “youngish” style which by itself can be rewarding and, at no more than 300 pages, it is easy reading which does not require much effort to finish. I certainly would like to know what happens to Flint next in this crazy world of his so if the author writes a second Space Ocelot book I will most likely pick it up.