- Plot and premise are interesting and engaging
- More realistic space battles than other military science fiction
- Characters aren’t all perfect and improve from their introduction
- The emphasis on Grimm’s mother seems a little overdone for his motivation
- Abrupt transition from the introduction of the story to the main plot
Against All Odds Review
Against All Odds by Jeffery H. Haskell is an exciting military science fiction story that pits a disgraced lieutenant Jacob Grimm against a criminal conspiracy that threatens to endanger the Alliance and her citizens.
If there’s one commonality among military science fiction writers, it’s that the names of the two (or sometimes three) opposing forces are uninspiring and boring. The good guys are generally Alliance or United Something. And the baddies get their titles from either the former Soviet Union or some other enemy of the United States. This book is no different in that regard.
Where it differs from many of the military science fiction stories is its slight emphasis on the more realistic aspects of space battles. Namely, the large distances and the waiting. That makes for long periods of tense anticipation and a minute of intense action. For writers, that build-up can be difficult and that minute, if that, of action needs to deliver on that anticipation.
Against All Odds manages to keep the reader’s attention by shifting focus from bridge of Grimm’s destroyer to the enemy bridge. The shift from perspective doesn’t quite end there though. Haskell manages to keep the change in perspective from becoming too confusing, and that shift isn’t happening enough to disorient readers—some fantasy writers may shift from one character to the next every chapter, making the story feel disjointed and annoying readers.
The focus on realism doesn’t quite end with the long time between battles. Issues with weapons, removing atmosphere to prevent destruction, and time lag all play into the ship-to-ship battles. And on top of that is ship combat with another staple of military science fiction characters: armored space marines.
Grimm’s obsession with upholding his mother’s name is a great motivation for a character, but it shouldn’t have been the only one. The persistent reminder of his mother’s name and sacrificial act almost made the character feel a little flat. What about his own honor?
Regardless of his condemnation and disgrace, Grimm is a likable character and the crew of the destroyer, the Interceptor, come broken and battered by their former commander, meaning the crew has time to grow into a group pf people that is endearing to readers.
Grimm’s job, though he doesn’t know it, is to root out the corruption and criminal conspiracy that has taken over a system on the edge of Alliance space. The story universe that readers are thrust into shouldn’t be too unfamiliar. Instead of Russians, the enemy is the Caliphate. And there’s reason enough provided for why readers should hate the Caliphate.
One barbaric piece of technology, the slave collar, is used on a supporting character in manner that sparks outrage. That’s reason enough to hate Grimm’s enemy.
Against All Odds by Jeffery H. Haskell is a refreshing military science fiction story that provides more realistic military space battles while delivering an engaging mystery surrounding the protagonist’s purpose in a star system at the edge of Alliance space.
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