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The Legend of T93

The Legend of T93 - Michael R Herrman Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author, but I don't believe it influenced my review.If you liked the post-apocalyptic setting of The Road Warrior, and the brains-plugging-into-computers cyberpunky technology of The Matrix, you might like this book. And if you like the epic-journey-to-save-civilization aspect of The Lord of the Rings and the sci-fi militarism of Battlestar Galactica, you will also probably enjoy this book. Also, if you liked how the primative Ewoks prevailed against a technologically superior and better-resourced Empire in Return of the Jedi, then you will almost certainly like this story. That's a whole lot of references for me to throw out there, and maybe you'll get the idea that I'm trying to say this story was overly derrivative, but I'm not. These are just comparisons I've come up with to help you decide whether this book is for you, because I feel like this story might have limited appeal, but if you happen to be in the group disposed to liking it, I think you'll REALLY like it.So The Legend of T93 is sci-fi/fantasy set in the Pacific Northwest (go PNW!!!) forty years after a global nuclear war. I won't get into a blow-by-blow here, but the story centers around the struggle for preeminence among three very different city-states which have risen from the ashes of what used to be Seattle: Haven is a highly technological society, with a lot of material comforts, but it is a dictatorship, and a diabolical one at that, because every citizen has a computer chip implanted in their brain, which ties into a central computer (the HICC) controlled by the dictator. It is essentially a fully gated, fully surveilled society. Granite is a low-tech society of religious zealots who sound like they might have been some sort of amalgam of hippy commune/religious fundamentalist group before the world war, but to survive they've evolved (devolved?) to take on a badass hunter/gatherer/warrior ethos. It's an odd mix. They have rifles, and the remants of technologies we would recognize, like combustion engines. Because of the way their beliefs have evolved, they aren't very free either. Summerhill is a geothermally-powered farm community which it seems were mostly peaceful scientists and technical types before the war. They are a democratic society, which is of course a good thing in most ways, but kind of makes them slow to respond to threats, and paralyzes them when they can't reach consensus. They've evolved some pretty imaginative new technologies, including a supercomputer based on a genetically-engineered fungus. SO... that is a lot of worldbuilding, and I'll be up front with you: you've got to put in a bit of effort at the beginning, to get your bearings and figure out who's who, and what some of the stuff they're talking about is. It isn't everybody's cup of tea, and in fact, it isn't usually my cup of tea. If I'm going to be totally 100% honest, I'll admit that I might have given up around page 20, if I wasn't reading this because I like the author, and find him fascinating. On the other hand, and this is also 100% honest, I'm glad I put the effort in to get past all the setup, because around page 60-70, the story starts to get pretty interesting. What I really liked was the whole asymmetric warfare aspect... the idea of very unevenly-matched forces drawn into conflict, and how they try to maneuver to stage the fight in a way that plays best to their own particular strengths, and to their enemies' weaknesses. I mentioned the Ewoks vs. the Empire in Return of the Jedi, but there are plenty of nonfiction examples of this sort of confrontation: the U.S. vs the VietCong in the VietNam War, and Soviet vs. Afghan forces from 1979-1986. These types of conflicts are actually becoming common in our world, and I think it's pretty safe to say that conventional superpowers are still grappling with how best to go about prosecuting these sorts of wars. The author is a former Marine, and not some desk jockey Marine, but a badass fighter who's actually seen some real shit go down. It's obvious he's given this subject a good deal of well-informed thought. Our civilian life is so technocentric these days, it's easy to fall into the assumption that the technologically superior force will always be at an advantage, but that actually doesn't seem to be true. Technology can make a fighting force more efficient and more effective, but the dependence on technology is an exploitable vulnerability. Low tech can be better, since it's usually more reliable. I remember around the time Top Gun came out, there was an article in... I forget if it was Popular Mechanics, or something like that... talking about how American fighter planes had all these silicon chip-based electronics, but that made them vulnerable to electromagnetic (EM) interference and EM pulses, whereas some parts of the circuitry in Soviet planes still had old-fashioned transistors, etc, but these were more resistant to EM disruption. I guess there was a hard-fought debate going on at the time in defense circles about which was better. Again, I think I'm only being fair to say this book isn't going to be for everybody, but if what I wrote above interests you, I would definitely recommend this book. The characters are not all that deep, but the exploration of military tactics vis a vis asymmetric warfare is first-rate.