Justin Smith, Steve Duong and friends are back again and this time it's WAR... err... peace. Sort of. The crew is up to no good (lots of good?) for the second time and this time they're facing off against the whole world. This one is not for the faint hearted. Kidnappings, theft (granted, of nuclear warheads and for the good of mankind) and gunfights about as we're brought into the world of a bunch of idealistic kids who want nothing but peace and freedom from government constraint. Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars 2 discusses some great ideas while still putting story first.
Kinnison spends quite a bit of time on the politics and diplomacy of his new world in his volume. Smith is doing a lot of work toward setting up a new interstellar government. Relationships are set up between the new planet and the existing governments of Earth. New planets are being applied for and assigned. There is a lot here. There has to be though, because this is a very political story.
The goals of the students (and that's what most of the good guys are) are laudable and they're very aware of the potential downside of the computers they have built. They can detect and destroy just about everything. They seize all of the world's nuclear weapons and hide them in space. They can destroy just about everything and Steve Duong knows all the tricks to do so. So far they haven't succumbed to the evil possibilities of their technology, at least by their standards. They're well aware of some of the potential damage that can be done with a technology that can detect, transport and create just about everything. Even punishment of criminals is performed with an eye toward mercy. In the end, not everything works the way it was intended to, but that in and of itself makes sense.
Nuclear weapons are stolen back by the United States government. A fight breaks out on the penal planet. It's made possible by the use of replicator technology (very similar to that used in Star Trek) that wasn't meant to produce weapons. Kinnison is very well aware of what can go wrong here and he is making the point. Sometimes I wonder if he takes it far enough though.
One of the factions that is on the "Good guy" side is the Grey Tribe. They're a group of cyber-rebels who have been sought by various governments. A lot of them are also programmers. So far Steve Duong has managed to keep them from getting loose and doing something - seeking revenge against the government on a personal level? - that he doesn't want. No one seems to have gotten hold of a joystick and taken something they shouldn't have for their own enrichment. Kinnison is obviously aware of the terrible potential of a computer that can move/create just about anything but he seems to be unwilling to take the logical next step. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It hasn't happened yet. Equally as strange is that nothing has gone hideously wrong. With technology this new and radical I would expect more accidents.
There could be a bit less talk in this book and a bit more action as well. Granted, there are fights, assassination attempts and a potential nuking so the story is not all talk, but there are large chunks of people talking instead of doing. Even a few minutes in the computer lab with Steve Duong while he is attempting his newest innovation and worrying about a potential failure might spice things up.
For all of that though, this is a really solid story. I read through it in about two days and I really did enjoy it. I'm waiting for the next book in the series (err, well... I hope I am. I haven't heard anything from Kinnison about whether it's going to happen or not) with bated breath.
Bottom line:4.25 out of 5 Stolen Nukes.
Nemo's World: The Substrate Wars
Jeb Kinnison, 2015
On Thursday : Cedar Sanderson's Trickster Noir if I'm done reading it by then. If not, whatever movie I decide to watch and review.