Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shadow Ops: Control Point - Myke Cole


Shadow Ops: Control Point
Myke Cole     
Ace

Military Scifi

The world has changed.  Society, law enforcement, and the military are scrambling to keep up with the change.  During something called the Great Reawakening, magic came back to the world.  Individuals simply began to demonstrate previously unknown magical abilities.  Some of these abilities (schools of magic) are legal, others are not.  Since you can’t control what school you Manifest in, if you turn out to have an illegal (Prohibited) power, you’re out of luck.  You can either turn yourself in, or go on the run.  If you run, the law and the military will hunt you down.  And possibly kill you.  Or maybe they’ll use you as a tool.
 
Oscar Britton is a case in point.  One day, he’s trained Army, on a mission to stop a teenaged Pyromancer and his Elementalist girlfriend from destroying their school and classmates; the next, he unexpectedly Manifests.  At first, he has no clue what’s happening to him.  Strange doorways start appearing around him.  Turns out, Oscar is a Portamancer.  Unfortunately for him, that’s a Prohibited School.  So, he can either turn himself in and hope for a quick death, or run as a fugitive.
 
Despite his training, he panics and runs, putting himself in the crosshairs of police and military.  Eventually, he ends up in a training camp for the Supernatural Operations Corps.  It’s not by choice, but it’s better than death.  The SOC training camp is on another plane of existence, called the Source.  This is where the runners (who live) are taken, to be trained and used as military assets.
 
This novel, the first in a new series, will inevitably be compared to the “X-Men” movies and stories.  It seems to me to be a lot deeper than that, though.  (Although, for full disclosure, I never read the comics.)  We see the story through Oscar’s eyes.  For all intents and purposes, he’s going from cop to criminal without choosing to do so.  He has no control over the manifestation of magic or what kind of magic it is.  His fear and frustration seem quite realistic, given the circumstances.  There’s not only magic altering the social fabric of life, there’s politics to consider.  There are groups who want all magic to be unregulated; others who want all magic-type people locked away from ‘normal’ people; others who declare one group as inherently superior to the other.  This background is nicely encapsulated at the start of each chapter through excerpts from speeches or books or blogs.  It gives the reader a much better understanding of the broader world of the book.
 
The first scene of the novel is a very literal fire fight.  It’s fast-paced and intense.  After that, the action rarely seems to slow.  Even scenes of introspection are written in a way that do not slow the flow of the story.  If you’re a fan of military scifi, alternate world fiction, or urban fantasy, this novel is a real find.  It manages to take the best of all these genres and combine them, giving the reader a look at a fully-realized world that’s quite different from our own, yet quite similar, too.  The story is more or less complete in this novel, but I’m glad there’s more to come.
 
Rating: 8
February 2012
ISBN#  978-1-937007-24-9 (paperback)

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