Linda Nagata's latest sees heroine True Brighton, a private military contractor, searching for answers regarding the death of her serviceman son, Diego. Although the matter of Diego's death is considered long-since closed, True learns of important new information following the rescue of several prisoners abducted by terrorists, information that will put her at odds with both her employer and her husband.
The Last Good Man is an excellent near-future military thriller loaded with plenty of cutting edge sci-fi goodness. As expected, following her wonderful military SF trilogy of The Red titles, Nagata skimps on neither the action, nor the high-tech wonders that exist a few meager generations beyond our current military capabilities. The men and women of Requisite Operations have a slew of neat toys at their disposal, including animal-based biomimetic hardware -- surveillance drones that mimic worms, beetle-like cameras, and "roaches" equipped with ordinance -- and cybernetic prosthetic devices.
The issue of robotics in military applications is certainly an interesting one, and Nagata raises plenty of questions over the role of human soldiers in the coming decades as technology grows more advanced and proliferates even further. Also at stake is how much trust we want to place in private military contractors, and if such technological capabilities will perhaps erase any boundaries between PMCs and sovereign states.
This is all heady stuff, to be sure, but the primary focus of the story is on the human component. The core of the book is True herself, and her need for answers about her son's death, regardless of the personal cost to her. She's emotionally wounded, but she's also a trained professional, which makes her a walking bit of conflict all its own, and Nagata uses this too excellent effect. There were a few times where I doubted True's actions and worried about her safety and imminent betrayals, even as I rooted for her to succeed.
The Last Good Man delivers all the right action throughout, offering plenty of adrenaline fueled military theatrics and a few surprising twists, in addition to a thought-provoking narrative that makes this an awesome read in all respects.
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the author.]
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