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Embedded by Dan Abnett
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May 15, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi
Read from May 16 to 19, 2011

Dan Abnett is probably my favourite author of the Black Library, so when I heard he was publishing a non-warhammer novel for Bad Robot I was intrigued.

Embedded is a military sci-fi novel set in a slightly alternate universe sometime in the near future. Humanity has spread beyond the Solar system and begun settling other planets. Two of the largest superpowers - the United Status (America) and the Central Bloc (Russia) continue their long cold war while the distrubution of land is governed by the Settlement Office.

Lex Falk is a seasoned journalist, sent to new colony planet Eighty Six to cover a supposed low-level armed squabble blamed on insurgents. He is worn-down and jaded from too much interstellar travel between jobs. When the military try to give the media the runaround and a mystery explosion is blamed on a meteor strike, Falk smells a coverup.

Cleesh - an old friend, gives Falk the opportunity to find out what's happening out at the trouble spot by getting his perception grafted onto the consiousness of a soldier, (called sensory repositioning,) who's about to be sent out to the front line - Private Nestor Bloom. At first Falk can only experience Bloom's perceptions without any control over his host. Later, when what should have been a simple mission goes wrong and Bloom is severely wounded Falk finds he has to take over Bloom's body for his own survival. Somehow he has to get himself and the remnants of Bloom's squad out of a warzone and in the process discover why a secret war is being fought over an insignificant area of a backwater planet.

While not the finest of Abnetts books in my opinion, this is still a cracking read. The tech is sufficiently near to today's tech to understand well enough and what wasn't explained (the way humanity travels between stars, ships called 'drivers' weren't elaborated on,) didn't really need to be. Falk, although initially a grumpy bastard, grows on you and the crossover betwwen his character and Bloom's is handled very well. The story is a little slow at first but once the plot reaches the warzone it moves along at a cracking pace. The whole thing is fast and thrilling but not especially deep and the dénouement is satisfactory but doesn't get into much detail.
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