Monday, February 29, 2016

Flashpoint: Titan, by Cheah Kai Wai

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(Military SF) A Japanese torch ship paying a visit to Titan gets a request for help from the colony, which is under attack. (11,927 words; Time: 39m)

Rating: ★★★★☆, Recommended

"Flashpoint: Titan," by (edited by Jerry Pournelle), appeared in There Will Be War Volume X, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: What makes this one memorable is that it's so dramatic. The action is non-stop. The tension keeps you on the edge of your seat. And the good guys win. Lots of stories either make it seem so hopeless that the result is exhausting or else make it seem so easy that there's no drama, but "Flashpoint: Titan" manages to thread the needle.

It's particularly dramatic that when Takao finally uses her secret weapon, the speeds are not given in kps (as all others have been); they're given as c-fraction. There's something very satisfying about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Con: There's almost no characterization at all. The dialog is entirely devoted to military operations, so when crewmen die, we feel nothing for them. We don't even get an emotional charge from the commander's victory at the end.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I don't read enough military SF to compare, but I guess I agree with the rating and critique. :-)

    It was certainly an exciting read, but I couldn't really visualize many of the detailed descriptions of navigational(?)/orbital mechanics(?) so they were wasted on me. Maybe that's par of course with military SF stories?

    Also, I couldn't believe Japan would have a secret weapon more powerful than anything from the US and China in space, given that the writer stated Japan was still pacifist and armed only for self-defense (of its islands on Earth, presumably). If he used India instead, I'd have no preconceived notion of India's military might in the future and not be bothered by them having superior weaponry.