Reviews from around the Internet
Ok, I'm not a professional book reviewer. If you are looking for a critique on the art of writing, move along. I'm just a reader, and a retired military member and all of my thoughts start from there.
Truthfully, it is a pretty good story. I think it reads a bit like a short story, which I can appreciate. Don't get me wrong, I like a good Lord of the Rings style epic as much as the next guy, but now and again I like something shorter and to the point. This book scratched that itch. I found it pretty compelling from start to finish, and I can't wait for the next book to come out in print (I think it is already out in electronic format, but I like paper). I love a good near-future story where things are just different enough to make your imagination kick into gear, but not so foreign that I'm sitting around thinking "What's a flingledorp and why on Earth is this one attached to the hangwopper of a flogtrud?" Look, I want to follow the story without too much confusion. Pollard succeeded for me. I'm a 20 year veteran of the Navy and I'll say that about 99% of all the jargon, personalities, and events feel dead on which really added to my enjoyment and the believability of the story. For those of you with less military experience, Pollard does include a nice glossary in the back of the book so you don't get lost in all the TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms... military loves them).
I don't know if I have any downsides to relay, but I'm pretty easy to please. I'm hoping there is more to come soon.
This the author first novel and I got totally absorbed from the first page to the end.
This is SF Military but don't expect finding super-uber soldiers or extraterrestial advanced enemies fighting each other in remote galaxies, no "Starship Troopers" rehearsal at all. On the contrary, set in in the last quarter of the XXI century, the book provides a glimpse of what could be a very realistic progtessive evolution of modern tactical warfare and weapons... in a geopolitical context that will also be familiar to the reader, where a reconfigured US (called "Confederated States" but not yet explained in the book what happended) is challenged by an increasingly assertive China in a remote region in Afghanistan.
The book focuses in a Marine recon unit and the pace of the action is truly good.
The atmosphere is very realistic thanks to the extensive and thoroughful military research undertaken by the autor that you can follow in her personal blog.
After I finished reading the novel, I realy eager for more. Luckily a second part is very close to publication.
I can strongly recommend the book and if the sequels are as good as the initial work, I can see Ashley Pollard becoming a reference in this writing genre.
Excellent book. A fresh view on near future power armor warfare. I felt that I was reading a good story and not the writer's opinions on how they live their own life, which is hard to find these days in any genre.
This book caught me pleasantly by surprise. I had settled into the near-future military action and begun to suspect that powered suits were the extent of the Science Fiction, but then it took off in a totally unexpected direction which I won't spoil for you. I ended up thoroughly gripped and unable to put it down until I knew how it played out. I love SF and it's great to find a new writer with ideas as well as genuinely good writing. I look forward to more.
This is one of the best books I have read in the last ten years, so good I stayed up half the night to finish the story rather than have to wait a day to see what happened. Buy it, it's great!
have been reading a series of books that are written in a fashion that
catches Heavy Gear, Votoms and similar style Mecha. I love the series
and figured I would get the word out, especially since it is written by
someone in our community. Ashley Pollard does an excellent job not only
with the Mecha and the story but also the research side. She captures
USMC lingo and attitude precisely. I can attest to that with my own
The first book I read, I wondered if she had been a Marine. When I learned that she had not, I thought, that's allot of research and correlation to get it so right.
She's completed three of these books but I don't know if everyone realizes all her other work in our wargaming community. She was a freelance writer for FASA and was part of the 3055 Technical Readout. She's written for Battle Games and Miniature Wargames magazines. The list goes on and on actually. She wrote the rules for OHMU War Machine.
She also practices aikido, iaido and archery. She is extremely talented and highly intellectual. Check her books.
Ms.Pollard simply CAN NOT write these books fast enough to keep up with reading speed!!! The whole dog series rocks and I am always waiting for the next one to pop up!!! Keep Up the AWESOME Work Ashley!!!!!
stumbled on this and bought it because of the cover, title, and blurb
(female space marine is a "bad dog" in armor?!?). Well, it turns out
that our heroine is not the Bad Dog referenced in the title, but that
does not detract from an excellent book. Great character (read the whole
series!) and good world building.
If you like military sci fi, but get sick of a count of everything before every battle (and/or don't know or care what TOE is or the difference between a cruiser and a destroyer), this is an excellent choice. It has enough military-ness to be realistic but does not bog down in details that only another space marine would care about.
I highly recommend the entire series.
The first few pages of Pollard’s book may strike some as a bit of a slog. You get hit with a lot of military jargon right off the bat and might feel that you picked up an early Joe Haldeman novel by mistake. Further, the lineup of the Marine squad initially sounds so formulaic that for an insane instant I was reminded of the squadron of little bats that accompanied ridiculous mad Mervyn the Pumpkinhead in his doomed stand against the Eumenides. In fairness, Pollard did nothing to create that impression. It’s not her fault if one of her readers is nuts.
But stay with it. It gets better. Much better.
Sergeant Tachikoma of the Confederated States Marine Corps is tasked with locating and retrieving a platoon of armored army people who went to White Mountain in Afghanistan in 2071 and vanished. Yes, 50 years from now we’re still dicking around in Afghanistan. No wonder the United States collapsed. Secondary to that—or so she believes—she is to try to discover the source of a mysterious and very powerful magnetic pulse emanating from under the mountain.
There are two other groups taking an unusual interest in White Mountain: the Chinese, headed by Shángwéi Looi, commander of a special operations unit sent by the PRC to help the local Afghanis to destroy a potentially unassailable weapon and preventing the Americans from grabbing it, and Yeshua bin Yussuf, local warlord, one widely viewed by his followers (although not by himself) as being a Mahdi, or Messiah. While a common name and patronymic in that part of the world, “Jesus, son of Joseph” was an interesting choice. He regards “the pillars” under White Mountain to be maleun, a deep and sinister evil that must be destroyed and forever hidden from the face of Allah. He has struck up an uncomfortable alliance with the Chinese to that end.
After encountering unexpectedly strong resistance, Tachikoma (squad leader who is the semi-eponymous Big Dog) make it to the pillars, when they are briefly paralyzed—all of them, that is except Tachikoma, who walks between the two pillars and finds herself in a different world. She scrambles back, and is instantly killed when the mountain collapses on her.
Whereupon she wakes up in her cot the morning of that same day (July 2nd, for what it’s worth), alive, in one piece, but with full memories of the events that just occurred.
Everyone, including Tachikoma, compares the ensuing cycle of living out the day, fighting and dying, over and over, to Harold Ramis’ brilliant Groundhog Day, but it’s more like the extraordinary Russian Doll by Natasha Lyonne; darker, more nuanced, and utterly intriguing. As with Lyonne, Pollard’s main character is more interested in solving the cycle than Murray’s character was in manipulating it. Unlike Groundhog Day or Russian Doll, the solution lies not in modified personal behaviour but in simple ingenuity.
Pollard is meticulous in her depictions of military life. The jargon has the redeeming property of being authentic, or where of necessity invented, at least plausible. While most of the characters surrounding her take turns being red shirts, the characterizations ring true, and as the versions of the universe they are in progress forward, the characters deepen and the interactions change fluidly and with surprisingly complex patterns.
One of the more interesting interactions is between Tachikoma, now on her fifth go-around and fearing for her sanity and ability to cope, and the ship’s Navy shrink. Unable to deal with another round of futile battle and death, she ends up in sick bay, where she encounters Doctor Bullock, ship psychiatrist. Given that Pollard herself is a behaviour therapist in real life, I was interested to see how she handled a character that in most military stories is portrayed as inept or a buffoon. Perhaps not surprisingly, Bullock ends up providing a small but utterly essential part of Tachikoma’s ability to cope with and address the infinitely strange situation she is in. Bullock was a small but refreshing surprise in a book containing many such surprises.
Looi and Yeshua bin Joseph are also treated with respect, and a fair bit of cultural awareness, making for fully-realized adversarial elements in the story. Lower ranked Chinese personnel, in armoured suits known as “fatties” don’t fare as well, being reduced to video game targets. Another career interest of Pollard’s, as it turns out.
Going into the final 50 pages, I thought I knew how Tachikoma would break the cycle and live to see July 3rd, assuming of course that she did. About 30 pages later, she tried exactly what I expected—and it didn’t work. Then she tried something better.
I like a story where the author outwits me. Bad Dog is such a story. It’s clever, it’s subtle, and at the same time engaging and suspenseful.
I’ve mentioned Groundhog Day, Russian Doll and Haldeman in this review, but in the end, Bad Dog wound up reminding me of something far grander and more ambitious: The Expanse. The blurb on the cover promises that Bad Dog is only the first novel in a Gate Walkers series, and if Pollard’s first novel is the metric to go by, she’ll give The Expanse a run for its money.
I look forward to the next installment.
Excellently handled, this novel of near(ish) future mech combat starts off as a gritty military sf tale with plenty of realism and dark humor. It carries that through to the end too, but also slices it through with something completely different: the holographic multiverse and a day that won't let the main character complete. I didn't know how this was going to finish until the last pages. Recommended for fans of Cole & Anspach's Galaxy's Edge and the Four Horsemen Universe.
I came across this book on a list of “If you liked this, you might like this”. It seemed intriguing enough. However, as I was reading this book, I was really struggling to get through it. The characters are likable, the premise was interesting, it has giant robots, and an interesting spin with a groundhog’s day effect. After I finished, I was trying to think of why I didn’t enjoy this story like I should have. After much thought, I had to mark it down to it being focused on the real too much. It’s science fiction, but just barely. I guess I want to be taken away to another world/time when I read Sci-Fi and this just didn’t do it for me.