Ballistic, Marko Kloos (47North 978-1542090070, $14.95, 360pp, tp) May 2020.
Marko Kloos’s Aftershocks is the place to start the Palladium Wars series – and it’s a series you should start if you are a fan of grounded space opera with a military lean. In this first book, Kloos sets up a universe ten years after the planet Gretia decided to take on all of the other settled planets and darn near got away with it. Aftershocks isn’t about the war but about what comes next, like occupation, redemption, and rebuilding. There is also, it seems, a well-armed rebellion, whose identity and funding is a mystery.
The first book puts the players on the table: a Gretian soldier who wants to hide his past, an industrialist’s daughter forced into the big leagues, an occupation peace keeper who’d rather do anything but, and a spaceship captain on an easy patrol, and throws them into new conflicts, both with the world and each other.
Ballistic, as you’d expect, picks up where the first book left off. Relationships have been rearranged and will be again. The insurgency’s identity only grows murkier, even as their attacks grow bolder. Aden, our former Gretian soldier, is still trying to make peace with how hated his people are. And [spoiler alert] there is a loose nuclear weapon that ups the stakes in the plot considerably.
The Palladium Wars comes at straight-up military fiction from an angle that keeps it interesting, especially when paired with a writer who has a handle on what he’s doing. While it’s unclear if Kloos will eventually stick the landing, it’s fun to see the flips he’s doing along the way.
Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.
This review and more like it in the August 2020 issue of Locus.
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