I hate Embedded.
I hate Dan Abnett.
This is writer’s hate, you see. It happens when a writer reads a book that’s really, really good. I just sit here hating the book, the author, all while I’m really, really marveling at it.
Think I’m alone? Hemingway felt that way…
Gil: I would like you to read my novel and get your opinion.
Ernest Hemingway: I hate it.
Gil: You haven’t even read it yet.
Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, I’ll hate it. If it’s good, then I’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.
Well, this comes from the movie Midnight in Paris, but it’s still true.
Seriously, Embedded is good cutting-edge scifi. The first moment I hated it was when some journalists said the work “freeking®”. That’s right, with the register mark behind it. Finally the main character asks about it – it’s a “sponsored expletive”. Turns out that the government office behind the journalists being there wanted to broadcast to a wide audience but didn’t want to have to bleep everything. So they gave the journalists “ling mods” (linguistic mods, i.e. changed their brain wiring) so they would say “freeking®” every time they swore a blue streak. And “freeking” is such a weak word – it just fits, and you could see corporations actually doing that, registering an expletive. Bloody beautiful.
I hate it.
So the book is about a once-famous-but-going-to-pot journalist who gets into something that looks like a war zone – not civil disturbance, not terrorism or anything humans have seen for three hundred years, but a war. A real shooting war. And to get that cutting-edge story, the journalist gets his consciousness injected (via new cutting-edge technology) into a soldier’s head (totally illegal, but there’s a little cash on the side, and what harm can come from it?)
Except that the soldier takes a disabilitating head wound, and now the journal’s mental presence is all that’s keeping this staggering body going.
The story rolls along with us finding out along the way who’s behind the war, how it’s going, and more hints as to why it started. I’ll give Abnett this, his combat scenes will have you ducking when the shots are flying, and his dialog feels pretty much like soldier talk. So, man, do I hate him.
If I’ve got a complaint, I began to suspect what was behind the war about fifty pages short. It’s a bit of a old-school reason, and I was hoping he’d come up with something new. It’s a shame since everything was new and fresh, but the wrapup was a bit of an old chestnut.
But still, I hated this book. And I strongly recommend that you go out and get a copy – you’ll hate it too!