The Art of War: Blackguard book 2 by Edward R. Morris
281 pages Wildside press.
This is the sequel to Edward R. Morris's criminally underrated first book Father and Sons. Here are some of the things I said about that book. “[Morris]wears his influences on his sleeves like patches sewn on on punk rock leather jacket. What we end up with is an edgy novel that is not quite cyberpunk, military sci-fi, First Contact story or distopia. It is all those things and more.”
Picking up where the first book ended in mid 21st century Portland after a failed attempt at leaving the U.S. To be it's own country Oregon and Portland is not that different from the city we know it is today. Biggest difference is the massive mile long network of dance clubs downtown. Blackguard is in part the story of Sean Mallory who heads the team of bouncers for owner Paisley Jones. What they are not aware of is the two species of aliens who are hanging out in the club working to position themselves for game that could involve a very nasty future for the human race.
This series best asset is it does something that is almost impossible to do after so many years of Science Fiction literature – it is bold fresh and above all original. This series invites comparison, but take cyberpunk for example, it is similar to some cyberpunk but it is not really cyberpunk in a traditional sense. One thing that adds to this feeling is ERM's ability to to write about the iceberg, what I mean is when you see an Iceberg you are seeing a small part of it, most of it remains under water unseen, this book is written about what happens above the water line. You know and understand there is more going on. ERM uses an economy of well composed words that make for pretty prose that don't over tell the story. This series will massage your imagination, and you'll find yourself stopping to ponder it's scope.
It is laced with humor, some of it helps if you are from Portland. Other strengths include the characters and the the general bizarro-ness of the future Rose city.
I have a bias, as ERM is a friend and we are currently working on a novel together but I feel pretty safe suggesting this series to those who who like high class speculative fiction, as that is what this is.