Sunday, July 17, 2016

Staff Review: The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata

[Note: This review contains mild spoilers.]

I've been in a reading slump for about three years now. I start books and don't finish them. I take books home and don't even open the covers. It's frustrating, but at the same time it's nice. I'm spending more time on my other hobbies, like gardening. Life is all about balance, and this has been a period of readjustment for my life, a rebalancing that I'd like to believe has been a net positive.

Of course, I wouldn't be so optimistic about the changes in my reading habits if I were convinced a sentient computer program was influencing my choices as part of its larger plan to change the entire world to suit its purposes. There's a fairly large difference between making my own choices and being someone's or something's puppet.

Which brings me to The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata, the first in a series of near-future military science fiction where the characters slowly realize that their choices are being influenced by a mysterious power whose intentions are not entirely clear. It's a fascinating question, and I'm fascinated to see how it plays out over the next books in the series.

The near-future setting of the novel means that many of the issues the characters face feel very familiar. I found that this helped draw me into the story by making the high-tech super soldiers seem a bit more like people I know. While I'm unquestionably a fan of military science fiction, my tastes tend more towards far-flung space adventures than gritty stories set in something very similar to the real world.

The best science fiction gives you a new perspective on the real world, pushing the reader to reexamine how our choices today might change the future. Let's just hope that Linda Nagata's prediction of a future guided by a computer program with a mind of its own stays fictional.

~Sarah, Adult Services

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