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Michael Z. Williamson
Baen, 667 pages

Michael Z. Williamson
Michael Z. Williamson was born in 1967 in Birkenhead, England. He joined the USAF at age 18 and spent a number of years stationed all over the USA and the world. Since leaving active duty and transferring to the reserves, cutlery (making and refurbishing) has been his sole occupation. He and his family live in Greenwood, Indiana.

Michael Z. Williamson Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Michael M Jones

Framed by unknown people for massive amounts of embezzling, Sergeant Kendra Pacelli is forced to abandon everything she's ever known, turn her back on the world she has served faithfully, and flee for her life, claiming sanctuary with the only human settlement to remain independent of the United Nations' stranglehold: the Freehold of Grainne. Leaving everything behind is hard enough; starting over on a new planet with new rules, new customs, and new people is even worse. Grainne is a place founded on certain principles of independence and self-sufficiency, and Kendra's forced to adjust quickly if she wants to remain on Grainne, rather than be cut loose to take her chances back on Earth. Soon enough, she has found a new job, and made new friends, and is settling in... just in time for everything to royally explode in her face. For there are factions back on Earth that see Grainne, a prosperous and defiantly independent world, as a threat to their own plans, and before long, war comes to the formerly peaceful planet. Kendra's own battle to stay free and help her adopted home will test her to the limits, and force her to make a number of hard choices. But will she lose everything in the process of survival?

Freehold's an interesting book. Combining the sensibilities of Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land or Friday, with the all-out brutality of interplanetary war, it feels like several books crammed into one, a dense plot ensuring that careful reading is definitely in order to fully grasp the evolution and journey of the main characters. It's tempting to compare the military SF sequences to fellow Baen author John Ringo's works, even though I've been assured this wasn't intentional, nor had Michael Z. Williamson read Ringo at the time he was writing this. Nevertheless, they share similar styles and viewpoints, and it's unsurprising to see them working together in the upcoming release, The Hero.

I thoroughly enjoyed Freehold. Williamson's envisioning of a libertarian-inspired society is sound and believable, even made desirable in the presented context, its plot never stops moving, and the characters are three-dimensional and interesting. The jumps in perspective between characters occasionally disrupt the train of thought, and there's enough going on that it's easy to miss out on some details, but all in all, Freehold is a satisfactory debut for this new author, and I look forward to his next efforts, including, I hope, a return to the Freehold universe and its characters.

Copyright © 2004 Michael M Jones

Michael M Jones enjoys an addiction to books, for which he's glad there is no cure. He lives with his very patient wife (who doesn't complain about books taking over the house... much), eight cats, and a large plaster penguin that once tasted blood and enjoyed it. A prophecy states that when Michael finishes reading everything on his list, he'll finally die. He aims to be immortal.

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