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4.4 out of 5 stars
The First Casualty
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change

on 28 October 2016
Military sci-fi is not a sub-genre I’ve been naturally drawn to – or so I’ve thought. Renowned for its emphasis on tech and less on character development than your standard space opera, it’s been something I’ve tended to shy away from. But then again, when I think about it, some of my favourite sci-fi stories have been military-based – and none of them could be accused of half-assing it when it comes to the characters. Case in point: Battlestar Galactica, its reboot being one of the most character-rich sci-fi series out there.

Mike Moscoe’s The First Casualty was first released at the tail end of the 90s, predating the BSG remake by some years, but it has the same vibe about it. The characters are similarly rich and engaging and, like BSG, cannot be neatly divided into ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’. In fact, we’re given protagonists from each side of the war from the get-go, ex-miner, Mary Rodrigo, facing off against the military might of Ray Longknife in a prolonged battle playing out across a good chunk of the book. Both sides are corrupt and that in itself is a major plot-point for the book – can Mary and Ray really justify giving their lives, and the lives of their comrades, for a cause they don’t support?

The first book of the now long-running Jump Universe series, The First Casualty had me rethinking military sci-fi. Moscoe, later writing as Shepherd, has done his homework, and the tech side of things is not shirked at all – I had to re-read a few chapters a couple of times to get the gist of what was going on. But the characters are so engaging, so likeable and sympathetic, that you will put the effort in to fully immerse yourself in their world.

In short, The First Casualty is military sci-fi for those who don’t think they would enjoy that sort of thing. Like me, you’ll probably surprise yourself.
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on 31 March 2017
4 soldiers, 1 war!
This is an excellent story by a great writer, it tells the tale of war between the society of earth and the colonies that want freedom!
We meet ray longknife, Rita nuu, Mary Rodrigo and mattim abeeb, four distinctly different soldiers in a war of attrition.
If some of the names sound familiar it might be because you've read Mike shepherds other series, about kris longknife or Vicky Peterson.
This book is set years before when the humans had only themselves to argue with and hadn't met the iteeche yet.
It feels a bit disjointed in the first chapters but it improves considerably by the end.
This might be considered the first book in the jump universe saga, as they discover the effect of rotation and speed differences on jump points
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on 14 December 2015
just perefact
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on 17 June 2014
Brilliant story...good holiday read
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Fans of military science fiction novels will probably be familiar with the Kris Longknife series, by Mike Shepherd.[ If not, see Mutineer (Kris Longknife Novels)]

Prior to the start of that series, though, the writer published a few other novels, under a pen name, that are also military science fiction, and which take place in the same future history setting.

This is a reissue of the first of those. It does feature Ray Longknife, better known from the Kris books as her grandfather. Since it takes place a fair few years before the start of her series, this is Ray back when he was a serving soldier and before he had children or got into politics.

It runs for three hundred and twenty five pages, and is divided into seventeen chapters. It's one of those books that is pretty much self contained, but leaves the door open for more involving the characters at the end. There are two more books in this particular series which follow it.

At the start of the book, Earth and it's colonies are at war. Earth is under the control of business interests. And the colony of Wardhaven is ruled by the Unity party. Who aren't much better.

Various combatants are caught in the middle of all this. Such as Mary Rodrigo and Mattim Abeeb, an asteriod miner and a pilot who have been forced to fight for Earth. Ray is a colonial major, and is in the middle of a relationship with Rita, a pilot.

Ray, Mattim and Mary are all viewpoint characters, and the narrative will jump between them for various scenes.

The book begins with them on opposite sides in the fight for a planet. It does rather throw the reader into the middle of the situation and it can take a moment to pick up and work out what is going on and who is who and who is on what side. But Mary and Ray do from the off come over as rather strong characters. The former a draftee who is finding she's quite good at what she does. This makes it decent enough reading once you get into it.

The pace does sag a bit in the middle though, as Mattim doesn't quite grab as much as the other two. However, as the book goes along and characters come together and various plot lines play out, all of which force them into making very tough moral decisions, it does become a much more involving read. Leading to a pretty decent resolution.

There are some bits of strong language and scenes of an adult nature. At heart this tries to be about ordinary people caught up in bigger events and how they can try and make a difference to those. In that respect it is quite effective.

It does have some well handled combat scenes also.

This possibly won't convert anyone to the writer's work if they haven't read a Kris Longknife book. But for those who have it's a welcome reissue and an interesting read, and worth a look.
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on 4 July 1999
Good space battles between ships, but some of the physics involved seemed "wrong" to me. Maybe I shouldn't gripe about physics in a book involving FTL space flight, but when a ship accellerates at 3 gees for several days, it should have to decellerate at the same rate for the same time as well. Too often the ships just seem to come to a stop, or at least the author doesn't describe that several days of braking were involved. Minor gripe? Possibly, and I for one could have done without the sappy and cliche drama of Major Longknife and his wife as well. It's an okay book if you're just looking for some mindless entertainment, but thought-provoking, it is not.
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on 5 April 1999
Moscoe has a nice clean writing style that provides just the right level of detail to form his universe and the fighting situations. I enjoy a good sci-fi war story and the author provides it. The central characters are divided between a ground based marine fighting unit and a ship based "naval" unit, and the two story lines merge to climax a good tale.
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