Beyond Enemies (Baen, February 6, 2024). Cover by Sam R. Kennedy
I was Capricon 44 here in Chicago over the weekend and, as usual, brought home a bag full of books. I picked up the latest from local author R.J. Howell (including the Wicked West anthology), and found a bunch of treasures at Sally Kobe’s delightfully well-stocked booth, including debut SF novel Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings, the new volume of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror from Paula Guran, Sunny Moraine’s creepy novella Your Shadow Half Remains, and lots more.
But the book that really leaped into my hands was Beyond Enemies, the debut novel by Marisa Wolf, who’s appeared in a couple of Baen anthologies and co-authored a number of titles from Seventh Seal Press. Beyond Enemies is the story of a girl and her tank on a backwater planet that becomes the pivot point in an interstellar war. Just what I’m in the mood for.
The book doesn’t officially pub until Tuesday of this week, so there aren’t a lot of reviews out there. But the always reliable Goodreads has a few advance reviews, including one from Jonathan Koan.
This book is pitched as “A Girl and Her Tank,” and based on the opening act of the book I can certainly understand why… I would pitch the book as “A Girl and Her AI,” as that is really the crux of the book. We follow Talinn Reaze, a human bred from birth to be an elite soldier for the UCF, and her AI counterpart “Bee.” Talinn loves being in a tank, as does “Bee,” and they love blowing stuff up…
That being said, fans of Bolo and David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers will enjoy this book!
The dynamic between Talinn and Bee is definitely the strongest part of the book. Their humor and back and forths were really interesting throughout…. I also appreciated that Wolf didn’t go for the easy route of making the story a Pro vs Anti AI story, but rather… about government training children from birth to fight for them, and not giving them all of the necessary information. This makes the book stand out in a field of Military SF focusing on AI…
The book ramps up its ending pretty fast, and I think it is an emotional ending that works well… Wolf smartly made the book about certain character dynamics, and the ending is intense because of it. There are a few great twists… that I thought were well executed and really worked well…
The opening and ending of the book were really well done, and I enjoyed some of the themes explored, as well as the central dynamic of Talinn and Bee… Very good solo debut from Marisa Wolf!
Read the whole thing here.
Beyond Enemies will be published by Baen Books on February 6. It is 406 pages, priced at $17.99 in trade paperback and $8.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Sam R. Kennedy. Read the first 11 chapters at Baen.com.
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