“Breach of Contract: Shattered Stars Book I” by Vance Huxley

This is a great adventure/action novel, a reworking of an old storyline set in a dystopian future. It is the story of a group of renegades brought together in a military unit who use their disparate talents and irreverent attitude to succeed where no other unit can, much to the dismay and horror of their superiors. Think of the great Lee Marvin movie, “The Dirty Dozen.”

However, in this dystopian future, the world is run by multinationals, and the battles are skirmishes used as out-of-court settlements of business conflicts: hostile corporate takeovers and the like.

So, due to the old bottom line, soldiers are less valuable than the buildings they fight in. Since their officers are required to account for every bullet spent and every window broken, they are hated by the men. Interaction with women is restricted to government-run brothels, and so women are regarded as objects. These two factors are pushed to the limits of credibility, and form the main sources of conflict in the story.

The strength of the novel is in the carefully-planned and meticulously laid out battle scenes. Likewise, the types of weapons and their relative usefulness are clearly drawn, satisfying the military geek present in most fans of this genre.

The characters are developed enough to be sympathetic, and the hero manages to attract our empathy despite spending most of his time killing people.

Most of the conflict in the first part of the book is house-to-house military action. Sometimes with a little too much detail — as in spending a page counting up their ammunition for the next round of the battle, when we’d rather they just started fighting. However, about a third of the way through, just when we’re starting to get a bit too much of the battle routine, the love interest is introduced, and the hero and his men start to show more rounded character traits.

And then the last part of the story sidesteps into real Sci-Fi territory, and our troopers —again stretching the limits of believability — head for space. But now the plot gets more interesting, with different troops from different world powers exploring an alien artifact in conflict with each other. This all comes to a partial conclusion, leaving a whole new set of problems for our heroes to face and a new set of alien technology to explore. In the next book.

Entertaining action/adventure, highly recommended for Sci-Fi fans willing to suspend their disbelief in favour of a good story.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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