2020-03-22 10:40:58 UTC
First of all, this is a very good book. This follows "Chain of Command", set in what the author claims is a reasonable extrapolation of current technology, except for an (alien technology) FTL drive. Captain "Bow-On" Bitka, together with his ship and crew, end up deposited many light years from known space, and have to battle aliens, make their way home, and battle aliens again.
Baen Free Radio was very cagey about the details of this, because there are at least a couple of real surprises here, some bound up with the world-building, and I will follow their lead. Some ideas explicitly reject what you might expect of typical Baen Mil-Sf. The military, both regular and reservists, are flawed. Bitka is not a fan of "hard decisions" - he thinks these are excuses used by evil men. He gains by negotiating surrender, even on a temporary basis, when he could have destroyed opposition, and he is bemused when people expect him to torture his prisoners. For all that, his tactics are not Liddell Hart's indirect approach or even Julian Corbett's limited war. When push comes to shove, "Bow-On" Bitka does not shy away from a toe-to-toe battle, if he can find a way to make the odds in this work for him. In place of beserker rage or inherent courage, Bitka recommends a learned discipline, tactical breathing (which a web-search tells me is a real thing).
I say award-worthy because, as well as being a very good book, I can see traits which I would expect to appeal to award voters. It uses multiple perspectives and timelines unusually boldly, and this works. One of the viewpoints is that of Bitka's XO, Mitka Running-Deer. She hero-worshipped Bitka before she met him (on the basis of the exploits in the previous book) and hides this to remain professional. We see that, from Bitka's point of view, she is cold and stand-offish. When Chadwick changes viewpoint, he may jump forwards or backwards in time as well, and small pieces of information from a viewpoint ahead in time increase the suspense when you move back in time to find out exactly what happened, and how.
Thinking back on the book, I can see that Chadwick ticks all of the gender and ethnic diversity boxes. Mitka Running-Deer is neither the only strong woman nor the only ethnic minority in the book. Now that I ask the question of myself, I can't think of any openly gay characters, but I may have missed them. Reading the book yet again to search for them wouldn't be a tremendous sacrifice, but I think I prefer to read some more of Chadwick's previous books, since the only other one I have read is "Chain of Command" - which I