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A Private Little War by [Sheehan, Jason]
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A Private Little War Kindle Edition

2.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Length: 374 pages Audible Narration:
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Product Description

About the Author

In addition to being a James Beard Award-winning food journalist, author Jason Sheehan is also a former dishwasher, fry cook, saucier, chef, restaurant critic, food editor, and porn store employee. He was born and raised in Rochester, New York, and though he has since fled the Rust Belt repeatedly, he still harbors an intense fondness for brutal winters, Friday fish fries, Irish bars, and urban decay. As a young nerd, he fell hard for Star Wars, Doctor Who, William Gibson, Roger Zelazny, and the spaceship-and-raygun novels his father would leave on his bedside table. He dreamed of someday befriending a robot, stealing a spaceship, and wandering off across the stars in search of alien ladies and high adventure. Since that hasn’t happened (yet…), he now writes about it instead—which is almost as good. And yet despite all this, his mother still kinda thinks he should’ve been an orthodontist.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1852 KB
  • Print Length: 374 pages
  • Publisher: 47North (11 Jun. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009H73MBG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #494,415 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Very good - but you might still not like it

This is the first novel of a food critic, so I did not read the first pages with a high level of expectation! However, the basic premise is strong, the prose gallops along at a good pace and you start to care (a bit) about the characters.

The blurb on the book makes a comparison with Catch-22, which holds up very strongly; enough for me to worry that this is in fact a Sci-Fi pastiche of that very novel. There has been a Sci-Fi pastiche of almost everything but this already, so I'm pretty impressed that Jason Sheehan has found a gap in the pastiche market!

His `hero' Kevin Carter is almost as annoying to both his friends and his readers as Yossarian in Heller's Catch-22; - as needy, and as bloody, but rather more blood thirsty. Personally I could not help despising him, his entire gang of interstellar air mercenaries and everything about them other than their choice of kit. These guys fly World War I derived bi-planes; Camels, Spads, Fokkers, etc. It's all done to save money, to prevent escalation of technology on backward planets, to smuggle easily `under the radar'. It's a great concept, which is delivered with panache, intelligence and wit. (Incidentally why were they not given Albatrosses, the best all round planes of that conflict? In fact, why copy an actual plane at all? But, there you go, it's just a novel by a food critic.)

Catch 22, Like M.A.S.H, is widely reckoned to be about the Vietnam War more than the actual war it purports to represent. I do wonder whether this book is also really a `Vietnam' offering, taking the line that all wars are the same, all mess everybody up totally, etc. (I hated this presumption in Heller's Catch-22. Fighting Nazi Germany was NOT a pathetic waste.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is SF very much in the old style - and with an old theme: a group of pilots are trying to master the inhabitants of a primitive planet. In this case it's on behalf of a private company which makes money out of mercenary military expeditions. The book is mainly concerned with the lives of a small group of the mercenaries - and certainly has echoes of Catch 22 as the blurb suggests. The weakest scenes, not unusually, are the scenes of battle - there aren't many of these, but they are, for the most part, dull. The pleasure comes from the characters and their interactions as we examine in detail their feelings, motives and histories as they interact. (This might sound dull - but it isn't). There's a brief note at the end of the book which shows that the author's first experiences of SF were about the same period as my own, and involved much of the same sort of material, which may colour my view somewhat, as a better editor would have advised cutting some of the more prosaic interludes, but it was a pleasure to know that this sort of SF is still being written. Probably one for the boys - as all SF seemed to be way back when.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The premise for this book is a good one: in an obscure corner of the universe various big companies are trying to help one group of primitive aliens win a long-running civil war against another tribe so they can exploit the winners and their land. To do this they are equipped with replica antique weapons for various reasons. The group in this story are all flying replica WWI planes like Sopwith Camels.

It sounds like Biggles in space, but it is easy to forget the space part as it is mostly just a story about how war is hell, which is at least 100 pages too long, and probably 200 pages too long.

The book starts with one of those Tom Clancey-type faux military memos, listing all the personnel sent on the mission which was a bit daunting. I was worried that it meant I would have to try to remember 50 or 60 names, ranks and personalities but really the story is all about one of them and only three others get much of a mention.

I got through to the end of the book, but it was a bit of a struggle because none of the characters was particularly sympathetic and I kept hoping there would be more exploration of the ideas, like the differences between regular and mercenary soldiers or parallels between the situation and various historical colonial adventures.

By the end I felt quite unsatisfied. The situation has so much potential that is not properly developed.
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By R. F. Stevens HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 10 May 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was hoping this would be a good old-fashioned SF shoot-em-up, perhaps like Timothy Zahn's 'Cobra', or Gordon R Dickson's 'Dorsai'. Certainly the premise behind the story is a good one; an anti-war moral tale about mercenaries fighting in a corporate conflict, who are then abandoned to fend for themselves on a distant and hostile planet.

But, alas no, right from the beginning it gets bogged down in boring minutiae. The characters are unsympathetic, the plot meanders, the writing is sloppy and boring, the 'science' does not convince, even the updated WW1-style planes are not self consistent. What a shame, because buried in there are the bones of a cracking good story.

I did manage to finish it reasonably quickly, even with the excessive length, and the message might be considered a good one, so this rescues it a star above being the pits. However, I would not have bought it if Vine had not given me this review copy.
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