July 28, 2005

The Weapon, by Michael Z. Williamson
entry, July 28th, 2005

The book opens with our hero being thrown out of an airlock. He blows all the air out of his lungs, disables his suited foes with a homemade knife, gets back into the airlock, and then proceeds to worry about what his instructors are going to do to him when they get back on the ship. It was all a training exercise, but with a real knife, a real ship, and really, really hard vacuum.

That was the first page and a half of The Weapon by Michael Z. Williamson, and by that point in the book I was hooked. I emailed Mike (who happens to be a Schlock fan -- he dedicated my copy of The Weapon to "the sickest clean humorist on the planet") and all-capped my complaint to him that I was hooked, but needed to get some work done.

The story is narrated to us by the protagonist, Kenneth Chinran of Freehold, who we follow from his suburban home, through the toughest training you'll ever read about, and into a war with the distant and powerful Earth. His job, as one of Freehold's elite Operatives, is to sabotage Earth's war machine by any means available.

If you've already read Williamson's Freehold, you probably know a lot about the war between the Freeholders of Grainne and their oppressors from Earth. I won't spoil the story for those of you who haven't read Freehold. Rest assured, there's no need for you to have read that book -- the events in The Weapon take place at the same time, but from a different perspective.

There are political messages to be found in both Freehold and in The Weapon, but the soapbox doesn't get as much use in this most recent title. The upshot of it all is that freedom means responsibility, and in a truly free society, everyone welcomes this responsibility. After all, the more a government does for you, the less free you are. Williamson depicts a future in which Earth and its overarching, tentacled United Nations are a well-meaning, omnipresent, ultra-socialist tyranny.

The story isn't really about politics, though. The protagonist despises that. Chinran is an Operative, not a politician, and he narrates to us his tales of military operations. If you enjoy the work of David Weber, John Ringo, or Tom Clancy, you'll probably be a Michael Williamson fan in short order.

I can tell how much I enjoyed this book by looking at how hard I'm having to work to not spoil it for you. I'll just say this -- after starting The Weapon I didn't get any cartooning done until I'd finished it.

If you want to buy a copy, Amazon has it. If you want to read a few chapters first, you can find them right here, courtesy of Baen Books. That airlock fight is waiting for you.

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