Soldier's Duty

Title: A Soldier's Duty
Author: Jean Johnson
Genre: Military, SF
Series: Theirs Not To Reason Why (1)
Copyright: 2011
Ranking: Good
LibraryThing: Title:Soldier's Duty ISBN:978-0-441-02063-8 (Add Book)

Ia is a precog, blessed - or cursed - with visions of the future. She has witnessed the devastation of her home galaxy three hundred years in the future, long after she is gone, but believes she can prevent it. But only if she becomes a soldier, on the right ship, the right company and the right place, to earn a reputation that will inspire those who follow.

  • (23) Soldiers Duty completed H Start:2011-12-19 End:2011-12-21 (military sf)
    Military SF by Jean Johnson, first in series

Review at my journal.

Military SF with a twist: Our Heroine has psi powers. Which she has to keep secret. Though that isn't the only thing that attracted me to this book. I was fortunate enough to hear the author reading an extract from it at WorldCon last year, and that taste was enough to make me think I would really like the lead character, Ia. And I did.

In some ways, this novel reminds me of Webber's "Off Armageddon Reef", in that you have a female soldier who is tasked with saving the entire human race against impossible odds, but who also has certain powers and abilities which make the odds not quite so impossible. Both of them have to conceal their natures and abilities. Both stories also require Our Heroine's plans to influence a lot of people and to unfold over a long period of time (and multiple books). That being said, the situations are also different, the characters are different, the problems are different, the abilities are different, and the solutions are different. Ia is more driven and more vulnerable than Nimue. Ia's task is both easier and more difficult than Nimue's task. Nimue's task is like herding a flock of sheep past a sleeping lion in order to escape from a dormant volcano that could erupt any time. Ia's task is like carrying a baby across a tightrope across the Niagara Falls while juggling multiple balls in the air, in order to get away from ravening super-locusts which will eat everything in their path, and are due to hatch in three hours time.

By the end of the book, Ia is a bit too much of a Superhero, but I can't really begrudge that, because the problem she's up against is as huge as the galaxy.

I like the way this story treats precognition; there are myriad possible futures, which Ia can see quite clearly, but there are also some parts of the close future which she can't see at all, obscured like fog. Her ability is both a strength and a weakness; she can see things in incredible detail, but she also has the risk of being dragged involuntarily into a vision if something triggers it. Ia knows too much; that is why she is so driven, because she needs to do something in order to stave off the nightmares.

Character is plot.