Dan Abnett is a British writer (“writer of wrongs”, as he himself puts it), Embedded is his second “original fiction” novel after Triumff:Her Majesty’s Hero. Don’t be fooled by that, though, he’s an old hand at that writing/publishing/selling books malarkey – he’s the author of a load of graphic novels, he’s written tie-ins for the various Warhammer series and for Dr Who (amongst others), and now he’s on the loose with his own novels, too.
Embedded is the story of a prize-winning veteran journalist, Lex Falk, who visits Planet Eighty-Six (much too recently colonised to have elected a proper name), where there appears to be, according to the Settlement Office, an “(armed) dispute”, most likely between unruly/unhappy factions of settlers. But definitely, positively NOT a war, and especially not between either the US (United Status. No, really), China, or the Central Bloc, where we still have a cold war but cooperation or at least co-existence across, well, over 87 planets now.
Falk is given, as expected, the run-around by the local Settlement Office, Military Directorate, and becomes more and more sure that there is something big, important, and covered going on. To get in on the action he gets embedded in the head of one of the soldier flying off into said dispute – a brand new, unlicensed, and experimental treatment with all attendant risks.
And, as you would have expected, the solid effluent intersects with the air ventilation device, in more than one meaning.
I’m not going to spoil the story further for you, it’s entertaining enough to read, and you should do so. This is, in my opinion, borderline Military SF (but then again, seeing Dan’s background and publishing history, he’s good at that), which he (for my taste) kept just on the right side of trite/repetitive trappings of said genre through the embedding/embedded story, and its developments. Still, there’s a good amount of military alphabet soup and slang, hardware, posturing, shooting, and of course killing.
The tech in use is, on many levels recognizable and realistic for the military hardware, but plain old Space Opera for the SFnal setting. My main quibble was the area of comms, blocking thereof, and how some of it (like Falk’s magic “sensory repositioning” link back home) seem to work fine when nothing else seems to. Don’t overthink whilst reading this, I guess, and you’ll be fine.
There are substantial amounts of introspection, more than I would have expected in such a story. Some of it is info dump in regards to the universe the story plays in, but a lot of it is actual history of the characters, character development, and this adds, for me, huge amounts to a book which might otherwise not be something I’d enjoy.
As it stands – entertaining, but MilSF based. Recommended if that’s something you don’t mind per se.
Author: Dan Abnett
Reviewer URL: http://thierstein.net
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publisher URL: http://www.angryrobotbooks.com
Publication Date: 2011
Review Date: 130816
Price: UKP 10.99
Format: Trade PB