Thoraiya's Reviews > Control Point

Control Point by Myke Cole
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Mar 18, 2012

really liked it

Gripping action, sympathetic characters, good writing grounded by authentic detail. Myke Cole's military experience makes this story authoritative and his imagination makes it exciting. But. (There's always a but, isn't there?)

I might change my rating after I've thought about this some more, but I'm concerned about how magic works in the Shadow Ops world.

Latents call magic to themselves by the power of their emotions. However, it's established very early that raw emotion is worse than useless. You can self-destruct ("go nova"). The motto "Skill Beats Will" is used repeatedly, and demonstrated to be true. There is a boy who is sad about being taken from his family, and he is shown to be unable to control his powers and generally is used as a punching bag by all sides. Enrollees are injected with an expensive Limbic System Dampener to physiologically eliminate strong emotion.

And here's where I go: What is wrong with emotion? Why do men seem to be terrified by it? Heap scorn on it?

In the Shadow Ops world, with these established rules, it seemed to me there might be a unique opportunity to explore the way different groups of people experience emotions, or how they function better or worse without them.

Instead, it is accepted that emotion leads to incompetence, which is exactly why women's ability to feel is seen as weakness in our own world, and it sets my teeth on edge. So, male brains are more compartmentalised. They have specialised sections of it; they can have difficulty thinking and feeling at the same time. Maybe to them, emotions are the enemy.

Female brains, though, and the brains of gay men, with their thicker corpus callosums, greater left and right brain interconnectedness and less specialised areas, should have no trouble summonning feeling, which summons raw power, while still being able to bind, the act of taking control of the magic. As I understand it, the binding is the part that the men can't do without pushing emotion away.

It seems like in the world of this book, women should have an enormous advantage.

They don't.

Is that likely, though? Is it likely that the US military, on accepting sorcerers into its ranks, would completely ignore the potential of women and go ahead developing Limbic System Dampeners to save men the trouble of having feelings that might cripple them in a combat situation?

If it is, then this book is more than competent, and deserves 4 stars.

If it isn't, if it's just more Feelings are for Pussies type toughness, then I'm disappointed and the book deserves 2 stars.

I'm camping in the middle, at 3 stars, until I've thought about it some more.

EDIT #1: Please note that this book passes the Bechdel Test, which is rare and much appreciated in a military novel. I have no problem with any specific female character, I thought they were all quite well drawn, actually.

EDIT #2: On reflection it seems likely to me that the author simply didn't think about this at all, and simply went ahead and wrote as good a book as he could based on his experience, not only of the military, but of life in general, where he only has an understanding of his own brain wiring to draw on, and it's not fair to dock him a star just because he didn't write the book that *I* wanted him to write! Upgraded to 4 stars.
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message 1: by Melanie (new) - added it

Melanie OMG this sounds so KOOL!!

message 2: by Thoraiya (last edited Dec 20, 2011 09:51PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Thoraiya Yeah. With a cover like that, I normally would walk away, but this guy's blog is evidence of his awesomeness at both writing and being a human being, so I have high hopes :)

Devin I don't see how the emotional dampener could be taken as an "emotions are for pussies" statement. It's mentioned pretty early on why the dampener is needed (so that sorcerers that don't have control don't accidentally kill themselves/everybody else) and makes sense. Other than that, I agree with what you say. Perhaps raw emotion will be expanded on in the later books in the series.

Thoraiya I'm definitely up for Shadow Ops book #2 to find out :)

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