The Last Good Man
Mythic Island Press 2017
In The Last Good Man (Mythic Island Press, 2017), Linda Nagata uses a brisk and bracing writing style to immerse us into the lives of private military contractors, in the near future. The team, basically moral individuals, work in conjunction with individually guided, robotic weapons and surveillance equipment. If Katheryn Bigelow, the director of Zero Dark Thirty, wrote a speculative fiction novel, it might be something like this. Wasting no words, the story stays right on track, concentrating on army veteran True Brighton as she and her teammates undertake a dangerous mission, which wakes old wounds.
For True, painful memories of her son’s death resurface, while her boss, Lincoln, must come to terms with a past decision he made for the greater good of the unit. True’s anguish and her questions about right action are absorbing and affecting. On another level, the story works as speculative fiction, inviting us to consider a future where AI combat replaces human soldiering more and more. The point of direct AI involvement is to spare the lives of soldiers, but as the novel shows, that goal isn’t always as simple as it sounds.
Gabrielle Mathieu is the author of the historical fantasy Falcon series (The Falcon Flies Alone, and the upcoming The Falcon Strikes.) She blogs about travel and her books at http://gabriellemathieu.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter @GabrielleAuthor.