An Atomic Moo Book Review
Way back in 2016 (if I can remember that far back) Titan Books sent me a pile of novels and “art of books” to review here on the Moo (heh). Anyways, 2016 was also a very tough year chuck full of scary personal problems. Notice how there hasn’t been a Moocast in a while? Well, probably not, but in the history of my life 2016 will go down as “not fun”, and that is despite going to comic book conventions as a vendor for the first time and kicking off both Atomic Moo #1 and Atomic Tails! However, things are getting a little better, and this pile of books sitting atop my Con Pile, is getting really annoying. Like a sort of silent guilt trip. Yeah, I took the books, I should read and review them. Which I’ve started to do again. Also, there’s a lot of creativity in these books, and we’re a geek creative website. It is very important to me to figure out how to be a creative professional, and peeking into the imagination of authors and artists I think can help. So, we’re back with another Atomic Moo Book Review! Better late then never, right?
First up is a paperback novel by writer Melinda Snoodgrass, a veteran SF and fantasy writer who has written for Star Trek, and worked with George (where’s the new damn book?) R. R. Martin. Keen.
The High Ground: Imperials Saga is a military SF novel set in a future galaxy conquered by humans and ruled by a mostly chauvinistic society. The story kicks off when, in a move to preserve power, the emperor’s daughter (Mercedes) becomes the first woman admitted to High Ground – an elite orbital military school. There she meets the son of a tailor (Tracy) who, despite his poor background, has won a scholar ship to the academy and hopes to one day rise above his “intitulado” (untitled) station in life. Then there’s some romance, political backstabbing, and all the cool stuff that goes along with alien subjugation, class warfare, and sexism. Keen.
For the most part, I did enjoy this book. Snodgrass creates an interesting future where humans have conquered a galaxy, yet (somehow) also reverted to an imperial government controlled by a patriotic aristocracy. Way back when I was napping through college I remember one of my anthropology professors discussing similar situations in world history. The idea being that as humanity has room to expand, and possibly compete with others, non-reproductive activity and rights take a back seat to baby making. In High Ground, Snodgrass presents a story where humans are desperate to fill planets with more humans so the rights of women and homosexuals take a backseat. I’m not saying I agree with this, but unconscious social decisions have always fascinated me. Like, cars. How the fuck did we all agree the car was a good idea. It sucks. It “Force Awakens” sucks, but somehow we all go along with it and spend way too much time starring at the ass end of a SUV with “Trump” bumper stickers all over the back of it! Digression aside, I also enjoyed how the current ruling families of her book evolved from the capitalism of today. The idea of Pepsi, McDonalds, and (gods helps us) Disney going on one day to spawn a ruling class of oligarchs, is really interesting. Also, this is a very feminist book. As a fully equipped dude, I think this should have bugged me a little more, but it didn’t. I think Snodgrass did a good job of introducing a bit of feminism into a military SF book without scaring guys away.
As far as criticisms of this novel go: I don’t think I dug the teen romance aspects of the book. Not that it wasn’t written well, or that others wouldn’t enjoy it, but I’m way past my teen years, and the “space high school” romances, and competitions, were tough for me to care about. My only other criticism would be that the book (mostly) sticks with the perspectives of Tracy and Mercedes, which gets claustrophobic at times. In a reading sense. Getting away from the protagonist and into the heads of some of the other characters would’ve been a nice trip at times.
So that’s the review El Moochadores! If you’re interested in checking out The High Ground you can currently find it in most bookstores or you can get your own copy online at Titan Books!