Saturday, June 16, 2018

Book Review: 'Fight the Good Fight' by Daniel Gibbs

New author Daniel Gibbs is a former computer engineer for the military and uses that training and exposure to IT to bring to life a military science fiction series he calls the Echoes of the Past – a universe centuries form now with so much fine characterizations delivering the tale that we almost forget we are in strange territory, and that is a gift too few sci-fi authors achieve.

As with any fine theatrical work Daniel introduces his character and time with a verve that immediately involves the reader – ‘5 February 2544 (Old Earth Calendar) Corporal David Cohen hefted his work belt and strapped it around his waist. At a little over six feet tall, David was taller than most of his crewmates, and in excellent shape at the age of nineteen. Having finished boot camp only a few months prior, David had been able to keep his physical condition from his training as he diligently maintained a daily exercise regimen, despite the challenges of life in the fleet. He was posted to the CSV Artemis, a small frigate that specialized in point defense. She was assigned to a task force protecting a Saratoga class carrier engaged in combat operations against the League of Sol. David and his compatriots were members of the Coalition Defense Force, one of the military arms of the Terran Coalition; the other being the CDF Marine Corps. David glanced at a clock showing Coalition Mean Time (CMT), the standard time keeping metric for all CDF ships. It’s time for morning prayers…but there’s no way I can make it to the chapel and still keep on schedule for our repairs, David thought to himself. An Orthodox Jew, David was heartsick when he couldn’t make it to prayers. Taking a moment before heading to his post, David stood and prayed quietly. “May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord shine His countenance for you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His favor upon you and grant you peace.” The prayer was from a passage in Numbers from the Torah. I hope, someday, we can have peace, he thought to himself as he began to walk to his post. David had only been assigned to the Artemis for a couple of months and had already been promoted to corporal. Due to his promotion, he was assigned to lead a damage control team as a bosun’s mate. While a spaceship did not have open-air decks like a ship from the wet navies of four hundred years earlier, the term “bosun” had remained. David’s duty on ship, aside from damage control, was to stand watch on the bridge as the secondary, or lee, helmsman. These were both traditional jobs for bosun’s mates. In leading the damage control team, David experienced what it was like to have to consider the lives of those under his direction for the first time.’

A new timeframe and a set of characters who will manage it and the story is summarized in a fine synopsis – ‘A republic under attack. A reluctant soldier. An all-out fight for the galaxy’s soul. David Cohen prays he’ll live to see the other side of his first deployment. His people thought they had left war behind when they fled Earth centuries ago. Time, though, has not dulled the hatred and intolerance of their erstwhile oppressors. To defend his homeland’s freedom, David abandons his dream of becoming a rabbi for the battlefield… and discovers a side of himself he is not sure he can live with. David's focus is clear when the bullets are flying. In the long hours after, he must reckon with the toll that blood and blame bring upon his mind. Can he square the tenets of his faith against his responsibility to crew and country? Nothing has prepared him to make decisions that could cause ruin or an end to generations of conflict... except for trust in God, himself, and those who serve under him. If David Cohen survives it all, who will he be. The trials and tactics of a starship commander are only part of the story... because every soldier faces battles within.’

This is fine writing, especially impressive as a first novel. Watch this author and this series mature.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.