Friday, January 20, 2012
The Amazon Legion by Tom Kratman
In The Amazon Legion, Carrera is desperate for more troops, and proposes a novel experiment, especially for the male-centric culture of Balboa, training up a legion of women warriors, and another one consisting solely of homosexual males.
Most of the book has as its protagonist Maria Fuentes, a young woman of impeccable family, who gets herself in the family way by trusting the blandishments of a young man of good family. When he denies being the father, she is disgraced and runs away to raise the baby on her own. This doesn't work out too well, as she is repeatedly victimized in the underbelly of Balboan society. A chance meeting with Carrera, however, puts her on track to apply for the new Amazon Legion where, if she succeeds, she and her daughter will be taken care of, and once again feel part of a family.
We follow Maria through her training, which is about as brutal as basic in the U.S. Marine Corps, aside from some minor modifications made to account for the relative strength and endurance of female troops as compared to males. After she graduates from basic, she goes on to a form of OCS intended to turn her into the equivalent of a noncommissioned officer in the Legion.
When the Taurans finally lose patience with Balboa, and attack, we get to tag along with Maria and her Amazons on some fairly normal military missions, and also a long sojourn as a guerilla fighter against the invaders. As we've come to expect from these stories, there's plenty of blood and gore to go around.
I loved the Heinlein The Moon is a Harsh Mistress tribute, naming the mountain camp Camp Bernardo O'Higgins.
One great quote:
"All the courses and books in the world on building self-esteem are largely exercises in learning how to be a bad judge of character."
Kratman spends a great deal of time in this novel expounding on the idea that social experimentation, in the form of attempting to integrate gay soldiers and female soldiers into the general military population, has serious consequences and repercussions upon fighting effectiveness and morale. There are quite a few discussions, as well, on the subject of "why we fight".
More good reading in the ongoing saga of Terra Nova by Kratman, though I can't determine whether this amounts to a side plot, with the main action still to be published in a new installment.