“It Blew Me Away”
War Surf Review by Nancy Fulda
This week I read M. M. Buckner’s War Surf.
Wow. Waaaaooooow. I don’t know if it’s because Buckner’s a stellar author, or because I’ve been reading so much slush lately that my literary expectations have dropped, or because Buckner’s style is so different from the Bujoldian novels I typically read but, man, it blew me away.
This is not idle praise. Picture me in bed at ten PM, idly thumbing through the pages, thinking the teaser on the back doesn’t sound all that thrilling, thinking “This looks like military sci fi. I don’t usually like that stuff.” Imagine me opening to the first chapter and discovering that it’s written in first person, one of our major Baen’s Universe pet peeves. Now hear me grumbling to myself and thinking, “Well, Jason Sizemore gives Buckner high praise. Might as well give it a chance. One chapter. That is all.”Now picture me two hours and three chapters later, facing the intense moral dilemma of putting the book down and going to sleep like a good Mommy-of-children-who-will-wake-up-insanely-early or yielding to the dark side and reading the entire book in one sitting. (In case you’re wondering, I compromised and read one more chapter.)
It’s a heckuva good book. Okay, I have quibbles about some of the plot points, and since I’m a conservative reader, the level of sensuality was close to the edge of my comfort scale. And, well, okay. I had a major belief issue with the story’s resolution. But somehow, that didn’t detract from the satisfaction of the read. Perhaps because, by then, it was clear that the novel’s primary thrust is thematic rather than plot-driven.