Monday, January 17, 2022

Declan Finn's White Ops

What do you get when you mix Star Wars, James Bond, The Hardy Boys, Chuck Norris and The Manchurian Candidate? Honestly, I get excited, but if you’re Declan Finn and you mix all of those things you get White Ops.  What a thrill ride. Seriously, this was a really good time but it’s really hard to classify outside of being a Science Fiction novel. There is a lot here though.

Sean P Ryan (descendant of Sean AP Ryan from Finn’s Pius Trilogy) is the baddass’s badass and the main character of White Ops. Not only does he come from a long line of “Rangers” in the space sense but he is pretty much unbeatable in hand to hand and small unit combat. He has a reputation and people (not all of them human by any stretch of the imagination) like to test him, but it goes further than that. Ryan has a tendency to find himself at the heart of trouble. And when he finds himself looking for something that he just knows has to be there…

Yup. The fecal matter hits the rotary air impeller at a high rate of speed. The mess gets all over everything. Ryan doesn’t seem to care though. He finds himself just as worried about what it takes to get the job done as Captain Benjamin Cisco does in ST:DS9 Episode “In the Pale Moonlight.” Which is to say, not at all. You could say he just doesn’t give a…

Nevermind. This is a family blog. I won’t go there. Let’s just say that fornication is not high on Ryan’s list of priorities while considering the costs paid by those who have crossed him. As such, he shall distribute zero coituses.

Or sumfin’


Did that make any sense? Probably not. Too bad. I’m leaving it in.

So anyway…


You need to check White Ops out. I was kind of surprised actually. See, even if I have read a lot of an author (and both of my long time fans will be aware that I’ve read and reviewed a ton of Finn’s stuff for this blog) it can be kind of hard for me to get into a new series with all new characters. Seriously, I often struggle through the first probably one to two hundred pages of the average new series while I try to figure out what’s going on, who all of these people are, why any of this matters and where any of this is going, but for whatever reason, I was into this thing from the second it started. Seriously, it took me the better part of a night to read the first, like, fifty pages of David Weber’s On Basilisk Station and about half an hour to read the first hundred pages of White Ops. I’m not sure how Finn did that, but he did.

Speaking of White Ops (which are actually Black Ops, but done for the purpose of good) I have to wonder about something. See, I’ve got a degree in history and the universe that White Ops is set in obviously has a lot of history to it. So, like, who wants to team up, raid Finn’s house and steal all of his notes? I’ll let you read them after I get done. I mean, this is a well crafted story and there’s enough backstory listed to make things make sense but I need more. I know this is going to be a trilogy and we’ll probably get more later but it’s not later yet and I’m like that spoiled little girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I don’t care how. I want it now.

This is definitely a departure from some of Finn’s earlier work. Ryan is most definitely not a saint. He was raised by a Catholic order and educated accordingly, but there is no prayer in the books that I remember. I will give Ryan this much though; As Father Mulcahey once said, his “Heart was in the right place, even if his hands weren’t.” I’m all for supporting the church but I’m not at all certain that’s how God told us to do it. I must’ve missed that day of Sunday School. I think. Or maybe…

Yeah, nobody’s perfect and that’s a pretty good system if you subtract the laws of God and man, I guess. It certainly works. `At any rate, if you’re here looking for Tommy Nolan, you’re not going to find him. You won’t even find Marco Catalano. Sean P Ryan is his own man and he stands out well. 

Of course, I haven’t said a word about all of the different types of aliens in White Ops. There are oodles and bunches of them, each with their own culture, history, temperament and physical appearance. They’re well thought out. Finn has obviously studied some real world cultures. He includes bits and pieces here and there and that helps the stuff he created kind of stick together.

The technology in White Ops is pretty awesome as well. Some of it is familiar. A lot of it is not. At least one tech is new to me as a science fiction reader. I’m pretty excited about that. I’ve been reading SF since the Eighties and I know all the tropes. I like seeing something that’s fun, but doesn't quite fit with anything I’ve seen before. I also like a bit of fantasy with my SF, so it works that Finn throws in a bit of psychic activity as well.

Finn himself has stated that this was the first novel he wrote. That does make sense because I can see a lot of the enthusiasm of the newbie in his writing here. That much having been said, I’m glad he waited to publish it because I don’t think he could have told the story this well as a newbie. This one took some panache to pull off. I’m guessing he’s edited this thing approximately 0876876897689768768769876986897689698768769869868967 times. As quickly as he writes, it’s not like it took him that long to get it on paper. It all works and it makes too much sense to be something that was written by someone their first time out. He definitely rocked it out here.

Bottom Line: 5.0 out of 5 Mystery Aliens

White Ops

Declan Finn

Tuscan Bay Books, 2022

White Ops is available at the following link. If you click the link and buy literally anything from Amazon, I get a small percentage at no additional cost to you.

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