First of all, thanks to everyone on Facebook who wished me a happy birthday. It was much appreciated. I spent a lot of the weekend away from the Internet visiting friends and enjoying the weather, which was really nice -maybe a little TOO warm- for early October.
Aside from being out and about visiting friends this weekend (thanks to Mark, Brian and Brenda for having me over!) there's really not a lot to say about how things have been going. I got the heater/AC system in the Toaster fixed last Friday, which came in handy over the weekend. It's good to have functional defrosters again, and I'm sure I'm going to enjoy having a working heater this winter.
I met Mike Williamson some years ago at Convergence when we were both on a panel about combat SF. This was before Freehold came out, and we hit it off well enough that I bought a copy when it came out in paperback. It was a good mix of libertarian utopia and combat SF, and I kept an eye out for Mike's other stuff as it appeared. Not too long ago I picked up The Weapon and Rogue, which cover some of the background events mentioned in Freehold, specifically the attacks by Freehold forces on Earth that cripple Earth's economy and contribute to the defeat of the UN invaders of Grainne.
The Weapon is more than a little creepy and disturbing. Kenneth Chinran is one of the Freehold Special Ops troops sent to Earth to carry out what are acts of terrorism on a massive scale; by the time they are done, millions of UN citizens are dead as a direct result of their actions and millions more die as a result of crippled infrastructure and the lack of education on how to function without the local grocery store, police, and doctor - to say nothing of clean water and electricity. Since our hero isn't a sociopath, this messes him up badly at a really bad time, because he spends the last quarter of the novel on the run with his newborn daughter. The awkward question arises whether it's better to do this sort of thing from a distance with WMDs, which is a philosophical question left for the reader to wrestle with; what is certain is that we have a very broken man returning to Grainne, one who wants nothing more to do with the commanders that sent him to Earth.
Rogue picks up the story a few years later, and much like Michael Corleone, Kenneth Chinran keeps getting dragged back in. Seems there's another member of his team who survived the attack on Earth and made it back to Grainne, only this fellow has decided to make a career out of killing people, often in spectacular fashion. Freehold's military wants this showy ex-Special Ops assassin brought back dead or alive, and who better than the man who trained him? The body count is lower in this one, mainly because it's more of a police procedural - except that Chinran and his partner are operating outside the law on most of the planets they visit. Especially Earth. I think this may be the better novel of the two, because it's unfortunately true that while the death of a single man is a tragedy, the death of millions is just a statistic. Mind you, I'm not saying that to be an asshole; the fact is that after a certain number of bodies, the mind hits overload, and you either break down or have to dehumanize the dead so you can keep working. That's the theory, anyway; thank God I've never been to that place. Anyhow, both books are recommended, so long as you realize you're going to some very ugly places.