Books: Control Point

In Brief:  Myke Cole’s first novel in his Shadow Ops series introduces a world where people suddenly begin manifesting magical talents.  When Lieutenant Oscar Britton show his wizard’s chops, he soon learns how far the U.S. Government and Military will go to control this new power.

Pros: Excellent and well-conceived scenario building and magic extrapolation blended with the military sci-fi tradition.  The author’s military research and experience and familiarity with other similarly-themed stories provide weight, as does the solid characterization.

Cons:  Oscar Britton is a sympathetic likable dude, but he spends too long waffling and deciding on an eventual course of action.  Not coincidentally, the plot does stall somewhat in the middle of the book.  Also – and this is directed at the publisher, Ace – my paperback copy came unglued and fell apart completely in less than two weeks.

Review:    The excellent Sci-Fi Signal Podcast pointed me to Control Point, listening to Myke Cole on a panel discussion about the state of Military Sci-Fi.  A small plug for his own work and appreciation by other panel members was enough for me to seek out this book.  The cover, with its “Blackhawk Down Meets the X-Men’ blurb sealed the deal.

Cole is an Iraq War veteran and an old-school comic book and Dungeons & Dragons fan.  This is my guy.  Reading Control Point gave me the sense of an author who grew up with the X-Men, read Ender’s Game, Armor, maybe some Starship Troopers.  Throw in Guardians of the Flame and the old magic-cyberpunk mashup RPG,Shadowrun for good measure.  The author is definitely familiar with the conventions and pitfalls of this particular corner of the speculative fiction world, and I appreciated that from the outset.

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