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Mission Veritas by John Murphy

In the future, the USA and other countries have surrendered their sovereignty to the Global Alliance—which is the puppet organization for E.T. imperialists (the Carthenogens).

Vaughn Killian’s life and parents are part of the collateral damage in the Carthenogens’ brutal occupation of Thailand. A naive teenage gamer when the story begins, he becomes part of the guerrilla resistance in Bangkok, learning to fight and survive on the streets.

Killian is eventually rescued out of there by a Tier-One American unit known as Black Saber. Once stateside he enlists in the regular military and is quickly disgusted by the PC attitude, couch-potato standards, and social engineering purposes of the whole fiasco (pretty much how the Armed Forces are right now, extrapolated a few years forward). Lucky for him, he is offered a chance to qualify for Black Saber.

Black Saber transports him and some other candidates to a planet called Veritas, where they will be evaluated based on their performance during one training mission.

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Where this novel really shines is in the characterization. I guess we’ve all seen basic training/academy type movies (most recent in my memory, Ender’s Game had such a segment), and read such stories in books (Starship Troopers had this element) so it’s nothing new. There’s a reason it’s done so often—probably the same reason “reality shows” are so popular: all those different personalities crammed together can generate a whole lot of drama. In this book Murphy exploits that quite well.

There were a few technical details that gave me pause, and I really believe readers would have been happier had Kerrington and a couple other candidates received the dressing-down they deserved after all was said and done.

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As a whole, Mission Veritas is far superior to anything the Hugo-nominated authors of the last two decades have foisted on us. It’s nice that the democratization of publishing has allowed entertaining fiction like this to slip past the gatekeepers and into the hands of readers.

Final judgement: A strong start to a military sci-fi series that promises much drama, surprises, and adventure to come

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