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Command Decision
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey, 400 pages

Command Decision
Elizabeth Moon
Elizabeth Moon grew up in south Texas, 250 miles south of San Antonio and eight miles from the Mexican border. She attended Rice University and joined the US Marines in 1968. With a second degree in biology, she entertained thoughts about going to med school after her husband, but circumstances intervened.

Elizabeth Moon Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Command Decision
SF Site Review: Engaging the Enemy
SF Site Review: Marque and Reprisal
SF Site Review: Trading in Danger
SF Site Review: Speed of Dark
SF Site Review: Once A Hero
SF Site Review: Rules of Engagement
SF Site Review: Remnant Population

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

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In a way there is little to say about the fourth novel in an ongoing sequence. Suffice it to say, perhaps, that Elizabeth Moon makes no major missteps in this book -- if you have been enjoying the Vatta's War series, you will enjoy this one. What else do we need to know?

To begin with, if you haven't been reading this series, I recommend going back and starting with book one. If you enjoy fast-moving space adventure, with involving characters and space war tactics and action and all... these books will work for you. They aren't perfect -- in common with most novels in this subgenre, the main characters are a bit implausibly skilled at the roles they are thrust into, in common with many series novels, the individual novels don't always work ideally on their own.

What of Command Decision, then? By this time essentially four main points of view have been established. Ky Vatta is the nominal protagonist of the series: a young woman unfairly forced out of the Slotter Key Space Academy, who joined her family space transport company and who thus was well-positioned to begin resistance when conspirators destroyed ansibles throughout human space and attacked several systems, including Slotter Key. Stella Vatta is Ky's beautiful cousin, who discovers in herself unsuspected talents for leading a business when most of the Vattas were killed and she was left the only candidate to try to keep the business going. Grace Vatta is Ky and Stella's supposedly dotty Aunt, who turns out to really be a spy, and as one of the few survivors of the attack on Vatta interests at Slotter Key is the natural choice to take a position in the new government. (No Moon books would be complete without a formidable Aunt -- after all, James Nicoll went so far as to dub her previous Space Opera series "Aunts in Space".) And finally Rafe Dunsbarger is a mysterious man, the disgraced son of the CEO of ISC, the company that controls ansible traffic, supposedly a remittance man (i.e. living on an allowance from his family) but actually serving as an undercover ISC agent.

Of these four Rafe's story is most central to this new novel. He has secretly returned to his home planet, Nexus, hoping to find his father and try to understand what's up with ISC and the ansibles. But his father (along with his mother and sister) has disappeared. So Rafe must try to find out what's up with his father -- and in the process figure out what's up with ISC. This forces him to reassess his troubled past life -- and also leads to fun but almost goofy scenes including a shootout in the boardroom.

Meanwhile, Aunt Grace is continuing to root out potential traitors in Slotter Key's government. Stella is pursuing further potentially lucrative business opportunities while still coming to terms with her personal history. And Ky is still trying to expand her fleet, this time with some unexpected help from a very romantic -- and very wealthy -- fellow. She also deals with a nasty system, complete with slavers, and she helps out the Mackensee mercenaries when they are in danger from the pirates. All this means she is faced with another difficult personal choice.

Basically, this is a middle book in a long series. Nothing is really resolved -- but nothing need be resolved at this point. There is plenty of cool action, several engaging good guys to root for in a struggle against some really really bad guys (as ever, Moon's villains are truly villainous). This is pure light Space Opera -- nothing earthshaking, nothing really new, but good fun.

Copyright © 2007 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton.


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