Wednesday, September 19, 2018

How the drones were tempered

“Mutiny in Space” by Rod Walker is a short story written in the style of Robert Heinlein's juveniles. Unfortunately, I never read these particular works by the grand master of science fiction, and therefore cannot say how closely Walker manages to mimic them. He *does* mimic Heinlein's irreverent political satire very well in the first chapter, and I admit that I laughed out loud several times when reading it. The rest of “Mutiny in Space” is a more straightforward adventure and action story. It's obviously geared towards a younger audience, say 14 year old boys. The main character is a teenage mechanic onboard a space ship who is forced to become a soldier when the ship is attacked by a band of brutal pirates.

The story has an obvious political undertone. The protagonists, known as the Social Party or Socials, are a combination of Communists and Social Justice Warriors. The good guys presumably represent a republican form of government and/or capitalism, but little detail is given about their views or their society, Walker (and perhaps his readers) being more interested in ray guns and spy drones. Another constant theme is that intellectuals are worthless (think Women Studies), while techno-optimistic engineers are the doers and shakers of the universe (or at least The Thousand Worlds, the name given to the human colonies in outer space). There are some obvious differences with “adult” Heinlein stories. “Mutiny in Space” lacks the master's multi-racialism, hedonism and anti-Christian blasphemies. This may or may not explain why the story is published by Castalia House, Vox Day's imprint. Vox Day (who is a science fiction writer himself) is politically very right-wing, to put it somewhat mildly, and not in the Heinleinesque way…

I'm not sure if I would have liked “Mutiny in Space” as a teenager. For starters, my political views were, ahem, pretty similar to those of the Socials. They still are, if I wake up on the wrong side of my Ikea bed! Also, I belong to the subset of syfy readers who expect science fiction to be about actual space aliens (green or otherwise) or futuristic utopias/dystopias. Walker's story, by contrast, is one long battle in space between human factions who obviously symbolize Cold War factions. I admit that it bored me after a few chapters.

That being said, I nevertheless award this e-book three stars. It's competently written and probably has a market somewhere on the Thousand Worlds.
TANSTAAFL, you grok?

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