Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi


The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi is a loose sequel to his earlier novel 'Old Man's War'. The novel narrates the story of Jared Dirac, a member of the Special Forces of the Colonial Union also known as the Ghost Brigades.

The Special Forces soldiers are genetically enhanced humans grown artificially. They are essentially emotionally immature children who have no morality and little inhibition. They are therefore prepared to carry out the most extreme missions in warfare.

Jared Dirac, however, is not an ordinary Special Forces soldier. He was created to house the copied consciousness of a scientist turned criminal, Boutin. However, the transfer was not perfect and Jared is left with bits and fragments of the criminals mind inside his own. In a fast moving and happening plot, Jared gradually discovers the motivations of the scientist-criminal and also his own and the meaning of consciousness.

A lot of Scalzi's narrative focuses around the issue of choice. In 'Old Man's War' he questions a lot of the right wing war mongery as epitomized in Heinlein's 'Starship Troopers'. But there his approach was to question the motivations of those who are fighting the war. He showed us that the ground troop often may have no idea about what or who they're fighting or why they're fighting at all. They might be fighting only professionally – that is, for money, respect or other benefits.

In this book, he questions the motivations of governments themselves. Do governments really launch wars for the good of their citizens? Even if they do, are they always successful in defining good in a desirable manner? Also, a war that is carried on only for a political purpose really justified?

The art of storytelling itself leaves much to be desired. Scalzi often launches himself into long monologues describing the colonial union politics and or the scientific principles of these hybrid humans. The dialog seems made up and artificial at a lot of places.

Rating: 3/5

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