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Dogs of War

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Alternate cover edition of ASIN B06XXJ4P9H

My name is Rex. I am a good dog.

Rex is also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. With Dragon, Honey and Bees, he's part of a Multiform Assault Pack operating in the lawless anarchy of Campeche, south-eastern Mexico.

Rex is a genetically engineered Bioform, a deadly weapon in a dirty war. He has the intelligence to carry out his orders and feedback implants to reward him when he does. All he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and Master says he's got to kill a lot of enemies.

But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow Bioforms even have a right to exist? And what happens when Rex slips his leash?

262 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 2, 2017

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About the author

Adrian Tchaikovsky

155 books9,951 followers
ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY was born in Lincolnshire and studied zoology and psychology at Reading, before practising law in Leeds. He is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor and is trained in stage-fighting. His literary influences include Gene Wolfe, Mervyn Peake, China Miéville, Mary Gently, Steven Erikson, Naomi Novak, Scott Lynch and Alan Campbell.

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5 stars
4,082 (43%)
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3,884 (41%)
3 stars
1,275 (13%)
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45 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 990 reviews
Profile Image for Trish.
1,924 reviews3,403 followers
January 2, 2018
I finished this late last night (has been a while since I stayed up so late to finish a book) but had to seriously ponder how to write this review.

Only recently I read Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time and it is clear from these two books that the author has a wonderful sense of bringing the thoughts and feelings of animals (sorry, bioforms) to life. It is also clear that the author doesn't consider animals to be "just animals" but sees them on the same level as humans if not even one above. A notion with which I completely agree.

This book, then, is about Rex, a dog-like bioform engineered for war. He combines canine senses with sentience, human DNA and then also got cybernetically integrated weapons systems. He is the leader of one of the first few multi-form squads, meaning teams that consist of more than one kind of animal/bioform. It is also about what the engineers designed him to be and be capable of and what he actually is and is capable of. The same goes for the rest of his team.

The book uses multiple POVs from doctors to lawyers to all kinds of bioforms in order to explore topics such as the role of artificial intelligence in society (there is a history of robotics too), responsibility and guilt, what exactly we humans define as humanity, the ethics of conflict resolution and the manufacturing of sentient biological life. The different angles allow the author to give the reader many different perspectives with which to identify or not and allow for an objective as well as emotional exploration.
And he shows that there are never easy answers, easy solutions, and we often revert back to the old ways just because their familiarity offers comfort while new ways are often scary.
making choices is the price of being free
Nevertheless, at some point I was wondering where the author will take this because I had thought we had reached the end of the narrative. However, the author had a lot of threads that he weaved into a complex web of a lot of other important questions. Thanks to the fact that the entire book was interspersed with all kinds of wars and conflicts, it never got boring or too preachy / theoretical.

What I loved about this book was in what detail the author described each individual bioform and therefore gave them actual life and personality. We have the typical mammals but also marine bioforms, reptiles and even hive-minds (a very intriguing concept).
Rex has a lot of canine traits, while Dragon is a typical reptile, Bees' consciousness is literally buzzing all over the place, and the felines are ... well, cats (there was an enormously funny moment in the book when a character actually said
Even chipped to the eyeballs you can't get cats to do what you want them to do.
and it definitely nails their best-known character trait).
However, this realistic portrayal of the bioforms' characters was also what was very difficult to read and especially after / because of their development I cried more than once.

Last but not least, I like how thorough the author is with his exploration of a topic. It would have been easy to end this book after the events in Campeche / Retorna but we went much further because the topic is and would be complex and winning one battle does in no way mean you'll win the war.
Moreover, as far as I can tell from conversations with veterans, he's really done a great job in realistically portraying what it means to be part of something bigger, wanting to protect and having a purpose - and being stripped of it later. He teaches the reader about integrity and sacrifice.

A true gem in this book was his criticism of current social and political problems in the world:
Perhaps the idealism of the Anarchistas had decayed into the sort of backbiting rabies that such popular movements so often devolved into, not fighting for, just fighting against.

flavour-of-the-month outrage

Technology is not Good Tech or Bad Tech. It is the Master who is guilty for what it does.
Sounds like comments to very current topics to me.

To me, this is one of the most important books when it comes to considering the future of bio-tech, human engineering and the ethics that should not be forgotten but go with the territory and the author has quickly become one of my favourites simply for having a fantastic way of making the reader THINK.

Now, does anyone have the author's address so I can send him the bill for all the tissues I needed? :P

Thanks go to Netgalley and the publisher / author for giving me the opportunity to read this early.
Profile Image for Barbie.
109 reviews303 followers
May 29, 2019

My thoughts in a nutshell

I don’t read sci-fi, I can’t enjoy it, but I’m always trying to find an exception. I understood why people love this book.
It has a lot of important questions. What makes us human? What if the bioform (half human/half animal) are intelligent species with emotions. Do they have rights or they just weapons?
Rex is a dog, and he wants to be a good dog. His master wants Rex to kill the enemies, but who is the real enemy? What makes someone an enemy?
Lots of ethics, lots of mortality. Brilliant.
I won’t rate this book because I’m not the right audience, but I highly recommend it to sci-fi lovers.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,964 followers
October 10, 2017
What at first appeared to be a straight tale of totally augmented dogs and other animals refitted with all the glorious technology of war, designed to be true monsters completely obedient to their masters, eventually became a tale of ethics and morality couched in legal-drama, societal commentary, and complicated decisions.

I'm quite impressed. This isn't just a war-dog story taken literally. It's a full-blown discussion on what makes humanity, transhumanism rights, and the pitfalls of certain kinds of tech, focusing more or less on those that remove free-will, but it's not always about the tech.

What are any of us? Truly? We hide behind entities and justifications just as damning as the operant conditioning so tightly discussed in this novel.

Good boy, Rex, you're a good dog. lol yeah, indeed.

It's similar to Tchaikovsky's other novels in that he's got a big thing going on about personified animals or a wide variation on the theme, but like his other SF novel, Children of Time, I really like his SF much better than his fantasy. :) There's a lot more depth that I can sink my teeth into, IMHO. It's not as epic as CoT, either, but it's certainly a very interesting ride.

Don't go into it expecting the same thing it starts out with. The novel changes with the MC... or I should say the MCs. Damn, I love Honey. It's worth reading just for her.

Profile Image for Justine.
1,132 reviews309 followers
April 17, 2023
4.5 stars

Excellent near future SF that delves deep into the ethical questions that arise from augmenting animals and transforming them into a state of personhood. It is just as heartwrenching as you might expect.

I was made to be a weapon but I have lived a life. I was born an animal, they made me into a soldier and treated me as a thing. ...Servant and slave, leader and follower, I tell myself I have been a Good Dog. Nobody else can decide that for me.
Profile Image for Emma.
974 reviews975 followers
September 27, 2017
Bioform Rex is trying to be a Good Boy, the kind of Good Dog his Master wants him to be. But when he is cut from that hierarchy, he must make his own decisions with the help of his friends in the Multi-form Assault Pack: Bees, Dragon, and Honey. Reminiscent of Flowers for Algernon, Rex's story is one of self-discovery, changing perceptions, and the building of personal morality. His evolving situation, from military asset to something more, means he must ask himself questions he was never programmed to consider: what is the right thing to do? And what happens when his Master orders him to go against this burgeoning understanding?

Told through multiple perspectives, including some of the other bioforms, the books presents a complex picture of humanity, especially when being human does not necessarily mean you are humane. It gives the larger issues of the book a real vibrancy and immediacy. And there's lots in there: the right to life, the viability of artificial intelligence, genetic manipulation, the rights of animals, ethical warfare... The sci-fi setting only enhances the ability of the author to ask these big questions, they are our current concerns writ large. On top of all that, it's full of action and has a serious emotional punch. My only criticism is that the end section felt overly long, even if the climax was both moving and apropos. Overall, a fun and thought-provoking read.

ARC via Netgalley
Profile Image for André Oliveira.
169 reviews56 followers
March 4, 2019

Ok. Adrian Tchaikovsky is becoming one of my favourite authors!

After reading Children of Time, I knew I needed to read something else from the same author.

Rex just wants to be a Good Dog. Rex has a Master. Rex kills enemies because his Master says so. But what makes someone/something an enemy?

The development of Rex throughout the story is phenomenal. I don't want to spoil anything, but the way the author chose to show us that is fantastic!

Less thought-provoking than Children of Time but still an excellent book with some really interesting ideas and discussions.
Profile Image for Josh.
1,636 reviews148 followers
May 1, 2018
Dogs of War was not the book I was expecting to read - in a good way. I've long been a fan of Adrian Tchaikovsky, his Shadows of the Apt epic fantasy series is great and I really enjoyed his fantasy/adventure novel Spiderlight. In Dogs of War, Tchaikovsky turns his talents towards sci-fi with genetically engineered bioforms - animals enhanced by weaponised technology and given the smarts to communicate with humans on near like-for-like levels.

The protagonist is Rex, a genetically enhanced dog who carries out deadly missions as instructed by his master. Along with his team of bioforms which includes bees, a bear, and a reptile named Dragon, Rex is subjected to brutal combat on near-suicide missions, fighting in a war he knows nothing about. Intelligent is his own right, it takes Honey, the enhanced bear, to release Rex and co from the confines of their masters' pull strings for him to see a world beyond violence, a world where bioforms can be more than weapons.

I loved the way these characters evolved from combat team to individuals with their own goals, each with a unique voice to go along with their unique physical attributes and all with a surprising amount of character depth.

Dogs of War isn't all about combat; it's a novel which takes war and broadens the concept to include peacetime ramifications of this new frontier technology through sociopolitical commentary which in turn gives the characters and theme a 360 feel delivered through a multi POV narrative.

My rating: 5/5 stars.In short, this book is great, read it.
Profile Image for Laura Tenfingers.
562 reviews88 followers
October 11, 2022
Dog-loving sci-fi fans, this is it!! Run, don't walk, to get your hands on this book.

Here is a look at what happens if humans create sentient AI made partly out of animal DNA and in animal form. But killing machines. AI rights, risks, potential, all with a side helping of humans being nasty, nasty. Our main character AI is a dog named Rex. Rex is a Good Dog. And by far the best book dog ever.

I didn't give it 5 stars, even though the first half was definitely 5-star worthy, because towards the end I admit to getting a little bit bored... but I still highly recommend it and will definitely continue the series.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,260 reviews222 followers
January 29, 2018
"My name is Rex. I am a Good Dog."

Rex is definitely a Good Dog. He's also a nearly eight-feet tall bio-engineered cybernetically-enhanced dog soldier with access to heavy weaponry and networked to a whole squad of other artificial bioweapons. (Being introduced to each of them is a really well-done in text - I won't spoil it here).

"Most of the humans who are hiding are the small humans, the immature ones. Master says we must kill all of them."

Rex is a smart dog, but he's bred and programmed to obey his Master who is busy prosecuting an illegal personal war using horrific methods and is using Rex's squad to cover it all up. But while Rex is smart, he's not the smartest person on his team, nor is he without friends even if he doesn't know they exist or why they care.

An enduring theme in science fiction is the way humans are going to interact with non-human intelligences. In the last few years the focus of a lot of serious works in the field have shifted from space aliens as the likely intelligences that we will interact with to the looming and ever more likely Artificial Intelligence. I made this point in other recent reviews (of Autonomous and Sea of Rust), and there are certainly lots of great books about AI in science fiction at the moment.

In this, Adrian Tchaikovsky postulates uplifted animals as another likely contact between humans and non-humans, and he does so with brilliant self-consistency in his extremely believable world. Rex is far more human than animal, but he's also recognizably non-human with a lot of basic behavior coming from his canine ancestry. He's also a very relatable character who over the whole book has to contend with his programming and whether what he does is moral or not.

I loved Rex. I loved his squad and the people who befriend him. A really wonderful book from an author who has become a must-read for me.
Profile Image for Theresa Ijachi.
103 reviews69 followers
November 2, 2017
e-arc given to me via netgalley in exchange for an honest review

”Life is constant creation and destruction. The trick is knowing one from another”

This book is about a group of engineered bioform animals. They're used as weapons in the war cause they can carry out orders given to them by their master. Rex is a dog, also the leader of the group which consists of a bear, a giant lizard/dragon and bees.

Something about this book is that you will find the animals more intriguing than the humans. I loved reading from Rex’s perspective and anytime it was a person's POV, I got very bored.

The author did a great job with the animals, they had emotions, thoughts and different personalities. They even went through an intense character development, especially Rex.

”My name is Rex. I am a good Dog”

At first, Rex was a dog that worried about not pleasing his master and not making the right decisions but am glad that I got to see him getting over those fears and being himself.

The reason am not giving this book five stars is because it was so boring at times. The writing was a little bit difficult to get into at first but I got used to it whenever it was Rex speaking but anytime it was humans, I found their whole dialogue boring. I don't even think they should have their own point of view, it wasn't too necessary.

I'd recommend this book to Sci-fi fans looking for something different and animal lovers.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 58 books8,110 followers
August 19, 2019
A fascinating updating of the Dr Moreau story, with corporations creating bioforms (engineered human/animal hybrids) as effectively a slave army. It's really well worked out, as we see Rex (seven foot tall slavering dog-monster who just wants to hear he's a Good Boy), Honey (giant genius bear) and Bees (bees) edge their way towards independent thought, freedom and a new morality. Compellingly intelligent SF with a lot of heart as well as much violence.
April 20, 2023
If we want to become gods, we must make dogs gods first.

Initially I was a tiny bit disappointed with Dogs of War. Then I grokked the central thesis, or, at least it sparked my runaway imagination. A new vision of one Golden Path to the future took shape and it was alien and wondrous. All because humans will almost certainly adopt cybernetics to take advantage of networking, processing speed, and AGI. But, before the first chip is interfaced with a human nervous system, we will experiment on animals first. And, weird things will start to happen beyond our control.

If diversity makes us strong as a species, think of the diversity available across all life on our planet. Adrian Tchaikovsky gives us a taste with our main bioform unit. Rex the dog. Honey the bear. Dragon the anole/monitor. All pretty cool. But, Bees. Bees was a revelation. After humans network all these minds enhanced with genetic engineering, humanity will redefine itself. Where in taxonomic nomenclature will we place an immortal bee superhive with human genes who can communicate with and participate as a full member of a vast networked super-culture?

Animals (and other Kingdoms) may march alongside humanity into the singularity. Or, they may beat us to it. After all, many other species are far superior at acting collectively. Buzz buzz.

Profile Image for Graeme Rodaughan.
Author 9 books342 followers
May 28, 2022
UN Shocker: Dog Soldier Fronts Task Force! "Indeed, Rex is a very Good Boy!"

I loved this book, high concepts, action, beautifully drawn characters and villains worthy of the name. All the best things that I read a book for.

Set in a near future, genetically engineered, cybernetically enhanced, human-animal hybrids are the disposable weapons for corporate sponsored black-ops wars in desperate regions of the world.

Rex, is a human-canine leader of a 'multi-form,' pack executing the orders of his human master - until he's let off the leash and along with his squad mates begins thinking for themselves.

Against a backdrop of conflict between two possible futures: Rex finds his truest self.

Will Humanity become an enlightened civilization of distributed, interconnected intelligences where social power is peripheralized or will we become a Borg-like master-slave hierarchy where social power is deeply centralized to a single point based on implanted devices and electrochemical conditioning.

You'll have to read this book to find out.

EDIT: 18Sept2020: '“Our defenders employed the robot dogs,” said Master Sgt. Lee Boston, 321st CRS loadmaster and the CR team chief for the exercise. “These robot dogs are a new technology that we’re testing as part of the exercise. The dogs give us visuals of the area, all while keeping our defenders closer to the aircraft.”'

It begins with robots then moves to bioforms... draw your own conclusions.

REF: https://www.expeditionarycenter.af.mi...

Absolutely recommended. 5 'Who Let the Dogs Out!' Stars
Profile Image for Lata.
3,591 reviews191 followers
January 25, 2021
4.5 stars.
It’s impossible not to think of Doctor Moreau’s human-animal hybrid creatures when reading this excellent story. Tchaikovsky actually makes a punny reference, partway through this book, to the classic, and actually improves on the classic and its ideas.
He posits a future for war that includes bioengineered human-animal beings, but with advanced tech in their heads and reinforced bodies, all to augment their particular existing mammalian traits, and give them huge advantages in battle as terrifyingly effective weapons. The author doesn’t just give us automata resembling mastiffs and grizzlies and crocodiles and bees (which all happen to be members of main character Rex’s multi-bioform squad), but thinking beings with preferences, developing emotions and thoughts. None of which the original scientists and biomechanical engineers ever intended. But with the growing neural complexity and increasing experiences, the multi-bioforms begin, unbeknownst to their master Murray, exceeding his commands. Murray has been waging his own unsanctioned battles in Mexico, while under contract to deploy the multi-bioform squad to troubled spots.

Tchaikovsky poses many questions, many of them ethical, including
-running wars through contracted, unmonitored corporations; who deals with the inevitable abuses and atrocities?
-what status do the created, hybrid creatures have? They’re significant investments, but they’re also intelligent beings, with increasingly complicated emotions, thoughts and behaviours.
The bioforms, for all their terrifying appearances, are developed beautifully, with Honey becoming the real brains behind the squad’s actions and Rex a tragic hero, as he’s manipulated and pulled and pushed in many directions, even while trying to find a way to consistently be a Good Dog. Dragon cracked me up (“Bang!”) and I loved the potential and abilities of Bees. And all the chapters dealing with a secret project happening alongside Rex’s development, leading to the open ending and me anxious to read Tchaikovsky’s next in this series.
Profile Image for Lita.
204 reviews23 followers
July 30, 2020
Uhhh... Čajkovskis atkal pierāda, ka spēj saviem lasītājiem iedot žanra cienīgu saldo ēdienu. Interesants stāsts par mūsu iespējamo nākotni, kas risina morāles, ētikas un tiesību jautājumus jau citā līmenī. Un kurš gan spēs nejust līdzi Reksam, jo viņš taču tikai vēlas būt labs suns. 

Manai gaumei gan pietrūka mazliet dziļuma, bet bija par daudz ideoloģiskā piesitiena... vienkārši gribējās detalizētāku izpratni par bioformām, ko es zinu, ka Čajkovskis būtu pilnībā spējīgs paveikt. Bet šī jau ir piekasīšanās, ko var arī vienkārši ignorēt.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,559 reviews2,312 followers
April 23, 2023
Dogs of War
By Adrian Tchaikovsky
What a Good Dog Rex! Loved this book! Very exciting, action packed, science fiction fun fest! (With big deadly modified dogs of war!) Killing, thinking, hybrids, of all kind of animals under the control of a crooked general. Rex just wanted to get the reward feedback of "Good Boy" from his master.
It's a great read and will be starting on the next book soon! You can't go wrong with this book!
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,079 reviews108 followers
April 9, 2019
This is a SF novel, which on surface may appear as a near-future mil-SF, but in reality is much deeper.

The main protagonist is Rex. Rex is a Good Dog. He is a Bioform created to fight human wars, when robots were deemed unreliable. He is part of the squad (which also include a bear – Honey, bee swarm – Bees and lizard-chameleon Dragon), its leader and servant to a human master. He is 2 meters high and weight about 200 kg, all of it muscle and bone, he carries machine guns and in addition to his genetic improvements, which include hands, has cyborg implants. The story starts showing how such Bioforms without mercy or pangs of conscience maybe used against anyone, including civilians.

Dogs are eager to follow orders, it main desire is to please the master. However, what if another member of the squad (who accidently is cleverer than its creators intended) as well as some humans try to take him from his leash, will he follow? Especially if it is easier to follow the orders than decide for oneself. Adrian Tchaikovsky does a great job by creating SF analogues to the real life problems. Here we have a Nuremberg trials question: is 'I just followed orders' is a valid excuse?

What I don't like is usual for modern SF bashing of corporations, for the history shows that states kill much more people, esp. the ones that formally fight corporations.
Profile Image for RG.
3,089 reviews
January 25, 2018

This was nearly a 5 star. It starts with a bang of action. Bio-engineered dogs plus other animals working for an organisation with crwzy weaponary destroy a civilian outpost. You can feel the pull of freedom or questioning his master in Rexs voice through his chapters. Great action and characters, as well as an intriguing plot. It changes tact and slowly becomes a different novel or "beast" altogether. The novel changes direction and approaches questions about politics, ethics n relation to the use and creation of these war machines, what makes us human, freedom of speech and also AI in our workforce and its issues and problems it could create with increasing change. The last 50 pages I felt just didnt close it the way I'd hoped for. Still one of the better reads this year so far. Cant wait for more from this author. This is a more complex book than just war machine animals going aroind on tactical missions. It really deals with issues that we potentially will face if they havent already occurred. Great worldbuilding, perfectly written epescially the different tones of the characters, just fell short at the end.
Profile Image for Andris.
331 reviews57 followers
December 25, 2020
Reksis ir labs suns. Un Čajkovskis ir vienkārši monstrs. Superkvalitatīva un moderna zinātniskā fantastika.
Profile Image for Austra.
612 reviews72 followers
July 8, 2020
Lasot šo grāmatu, es izgāju cauri pilnam emociju spektram, un man vairākkārt nācās mainīt domas par to, kas tad šī ir par grāmatu. Salīdzinoši īsā gabalā Čajkovskis ir pacenties blīvos slāņos saklāt dažādas tēmas - kari, nākotnes ieroči, bioformas, feminisms, drusku detektīva, katru kārtu dāsni aplaistot ar morāles pārdomu mērci. Gaidīju, ka šis būs vairāk pif-paf gabals (bet man vajadzēja zināt labāk, jo tas ir Čajkovskis, nevis Čailds), bet ar robotsuņiem. Dabūju viskautko un daudz.

Bija daudz pārdomu, daudz dusmu, kaut kur arī apraudājos. Rekss, protams, ir aizkustinošs (un daudzviet arī kaitinošs) savā suniskajā uzticībā, bet arī viņš ir tikai suns. Mans spirit animal noteikti bija Pūķis, kuram ir lieliski ciniska humora izjūta un dažreiz tikai gribas papeldēties un pasauļoties. Un tomēr arī būt brīvam no citu uzspiestā “labi” un “slikti”. Lai nu ko, bet domāt Čajkovskis jums liks - gan par to, kā darbojas izkliedētais saprāts, gan par cilvēka atbildību. Par pieradināto un radīto. Un vai korekti radīt domājošu, jūtošu būtni, lai izmantotu tās stiprās un vājās vietas savam pašlabumam. Dzīve ir nemitīgu pārmaiņu virkne, kaut kas top, kaut kas iznīkst. Kur ir tā trauslā robeža starp “labi” un “slikti”, “drīkst” un “nedrīkst”. Un kāpēc mēs nemitīgi cenšamies radīt ko tādu, no kā pašiem ir bail.

“Pārmaiņas sāp, bet visvairāk tās sāp tiem, kas pieķēdē sevi pie pagātnes.”

“Es zinu, kas ir bezmaksas un kas ir cena, un kāpēc nekas, kas ir par brīvu, nav uzticams.”
Profile Image for Viola.
349 reviews49 followers
August 23, 2020
Rekss ir labs suns. Un šī ir laba grāmata. Ne vien labs zinātniskās fantastikas gabals, bet arī grāmata, kurā var lasīt par daudzām būtiskām lietām - zinātnieku ētiku, cilvēku attiecībām ar dzīvo dabu, draudzību, uzticību un daudzām citām vērtībām.
Rekss, Peciņa, Pūķis un Bites patiešām ir lieliska komanda.
Profile Image for Ieva.
1,017 reviews77 followers
October 26, 2020
Laba grāmata liek domāt un izsvērt savas vērtības. Noteikti neesmu tās mainījusi pēc izlasīšanas, bet arī pārliecināties par sevi ur labi. Un tev nebūt nav jāpiekrīt autoram.
Profile Image for Alex Bright.
Author 2 books40 followers
November 10, 2022
4.5 stars rounded up

Absolutely incredible world and character building from Tchaikovsky, as always. A bit disjointed in time-lapses, which is my only major criticism — made the second half feel rushed. The layers of ethical dilemma keep going deeper… far more so than I first expected. Going straight on to the second book.
Profile Image for Pranav Prabhu.
169 reviews57 followers
September 8, 2021
“Change hurts, but it hurts most those who shackle themselves to the past.”

Dogs of War is a phenomenal, thought-provoking, and emotional read that is probably among the best books I've read. I decided to pick it up after really enjoying Tchaikovsky's Children duology, and this did not disappoint.

The story follows Rex, a canine bioform, and his squad of Honey, Dragon, and Bees, alternating between Rex's perspective and various important human characters. There are also occasional short chapters where an unknown, mysterious narrator seems to comment on and influence the story. The switching of tenses and the style of narration between the Rex chapters and the human chapters were very well-done, displaying the more in-the-moment mindset of Rex compared to the other characters.
“I have a vision of tomorrow’s war, between people who have made themselves the slaves of entities that only exist in the heads of men, and people who want to be free. I hope I am wrong.”

About halfway through, the book took a very unexpected turn into much deeper topics and themes, and I think this what was made the book for me. It explores the ethical, moral, legal, and political implications of bioform existence, and how different groups of people react to how they are treated or dealt with. It asks pointed questions about the nature of created sentience and their rights, and about their freedom to exist and think without being beholden or enslaved to any one master, also extrapolated and juxtaposed with how humanity thinks of itself. It is also an exploration of how people will respond in different ways to the application of transhumanist philosophies, and the definition of what makes someone human.

What brought everything together were the characters. Rex and his squad, even for the little time we know them, are fantastically written and imagined. They are distinct and given depth in very little page time. The way Rex is written: how he thinks and interacts with his squad and the other characters immediately endeared me to him. There was a quick emotional investment in his character, and how he changed over the course of the book as he learned more about the complicated world around him and had to grapple with difficult ideas and decisions were amazing to read. There is a profound simplicity to how he thinks, how he strips down complex ideas into their various components and makes choices based on what he feels is right, that made him the ideal character to follow.
“Sometimes it is hard because we have to make choices. I remember when having to make choices scared me more than anything else except Master being angry with me. Now I know that making choices is the price of being free.”

The ending was a fitting one, it tied up the themes and the character arcs while providing a glimpse at future events and how what happened in this book will affect the future of humanity. Tchaikovsky managed to draw emotion with simple and evocative writing. All the emotional beats of the story hit hard, the story went in many unexpected yet logical directions, posing and providing insight into very interesting questions. It's difficult to convey exactly how much I loved this book without discussing major plot points, but it is probably among my favourite science fiction books ever and I would recommend it to pretty much everyone. Rex is a Good Dog.
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,310 reviews209 followers
January 10, 2020
Here’s a short review: read it. It’s brilliant.
Rex is a seven-foot-tall living war machine engineered from canine genes and augmented with lethal tech. He leads a multiform assault unit of bioforms created for warfare: Bee, Honey, and Dragon. They wreak havoc amongst the enemies pointed by their Master. They do not understand the notions of good and evil. When their Master orders them to kill, they kill. Good people and bad people. Men, women, and children. They can’t decide for themselves because they have feedback implants with encoded hierarchies.
When the world uncovers the details of the genocide, Rex’s Master is tried as a war criminal. The International Court of Justice has to decide whether Rex is a dangerous weapon or a living being capable of humanity and compassion. 

Dogs of War raises pertinent questions of our time concerned with bioengineering, ethics, and the changing shape of society. It introduces unforgettable inhuman characters. It handles multiple POV in a way that leaves no room for complaint.

After finishing it I ask myself many questions, like why on earth I haven’t read Tchaikovsky before? Dogs of War is one of the best science fiction books I’ve ever read. It blends big ideas together with an emotional story of terrifying, yet relatable, lifeforms.
Profile Image for Joanne Harris.
Author 93 books5,662 followers
August 14, 2018
Loved it. Intelligent, sensitive and humane, with nods to We3 and Flowers For Algernon. I may never recover.
Profile Image for Linda.
Author 1 book72 followers
February 22, 2021
Manīju joku, ka bibliotēkā mainījusies grāmatu kārtība - ceļojumu grāmatas tagad atrodamas pie fantāzijas, politika ir zinātniskā fantastika un epidemoloģija atrodama pašpalīdzības plauktos.

Hi hi, ha ha, un tad es izlasu "Kara suņus". Joks galīgi nav tālu no patiesības. Zinātniskā fantastika - pasaulē eksistē bioformas - ģenētikas un tehnoloģiju radīts brīnums, nāvējošas un dzīvas karamašīnas. Kam pieder kontrole pār tām, tam arī vara lemt un ietekmēt pasaules līmeņa saspīlējumus. Vai arī tādus radīt. Un pie durvīm jau klauvē politika. Atvainojos, jau lien iekšā pa logu. Atvainojos, pa ekrānu. Bet ne par to grāmata.

Par ko tad ir "Kara suņi"? Grāmatas pirmajā trešdaļā es biju pārliecināta, ka sižets ir par un ap, un iekš bioformu revolūcijas, izlaušanās no Saimnieka kontroles. Un BABAM - tas notiek, bet grāmata vēl nav pat pusē. Tad saprotu, ka situācija ir sarežģītāka, un grāmata patiesībā ir par attīstības ētiku - cik daudz cilvēki ir gatavi pieņemt pašu radītās briesmīgās un aizdomīgi cilvēciskās būtnes, vai un kur tiem ir vieta šajā pasaulē. BAM, grāmatas pusē šis pavediens jau pāraug nākamajā. Un tā vēl vismaz pāris reizes. Un par to patiešām milzīgs paldies autoram, es dievinu tos mirkļus, kad grāmata norāda uz manām kļūdainajām iedomām par lasāmvielu, it sevišķi, ja tas darīts tik talantīgi. Tātad - par to tad ir "Kara suņi"? Man liekas, ka par to, kas līdz galam virsrakstā nav iztulkojies.*

Aizraujoša zinātniskā fantastika tepat uz mūsu planētas. Čajkovskis, lai arī pamatīga grāmatu pulka autors, man ir atkājums. Gaidu turpinājuma tulkojumu, kā arī palūkošos pēc "Laika bērniem".

*Jāpiebilst, ka tulkojums ir lielisks, paldies Ievai Melngalvei!
Profile Image for Anete.
427 reviews63 followers
June 1, 2020
Reksis ir labs suns.

Viss ko Reksis vēlas, ir būt labs suns savam Saimniekam.

Saimnieka vārds ir likums.

Rekša radītāji ir viņam devuši visas iespējas būt biedējošam, efektīvam un klausīgam kareivim. Bet vai tomēr kaut kas dizainā nav aizgājis neceļos?

Šī ir tāda zinātniskā fantastika ar galveno varoni suni, kā cerēju, ka būs Sirius.
Ir ne tikai filozofija, bet arī interesanti citi varoņi, pasaule, koncepti, brutālas cīņas ainas, draudzība, nodevība, emocijas sit augstu vilni... Jā, jā un vēlreiz jā!

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