I just finished reading my review copy of Michael Z. Williamson’s latest science fiction novel “Better to Beg Forgiveness“. This fast-paced novel is set a couple of centuries in the future and follows the adventures of a band of mercenaries sent to guard a national president on a war-torn backwater colony planet. The story has some obvious analogies to the current use of “contractors” in Iraq. And it is obvious that in creating the fictional “Ripple Creek” off-world mercenary company, Williamson drew heavily on the real-life experiences of a few Blackwater types in researching this story. This adds an unmistakable air of realism to a fictional tale, making it quite fun to read.
I must admit that my reading of the book was sporadic–not because of any fault of the novel but rather because of the interruptions of elk and deer hunting season, and then holiday travel. But the recent heavy snowfall here at the ranch curtailed most of my outdoor chores and got me into into one of those cozy-by-the-woodstove book reading moods, so I was finally able to finish it.
“Better to Beg Forgiveness” is a well-told tale. It has plenty of the elements that Williamson fans love: action, great technical detail, believable characters, accurate tactics, vivid imagery of distant worlds, and some compellingly deep drama. Mike Williamson is prior military service, and his experience definitely shows. Unlike most of the schlock military science fiction genre novels that crowd the market, Mike’s books are technically and tactically correct. That is a real rarity!
Without spoiling the plot, I can safely say that the story has plenty of interesting turns. Williamson is well-versed at weaving technical details into a story without bogging it down. (As a fellow novelist, I can assure you this is very difficult.) He is also a master at blending, action, drama, and character conflicts. In this particular story, he describes inter-agency, and inter-governmental conflicts exceptionally well, without making the story drag. Again, this adds texture and realism to the tale. In all, I thought that the storyline was plausible, the characters were believable, and the action was compelling. This is a book that is well worth reading. Just one proviso: because of some adult situations and copious battlefield violence this book is definitely not for children!
I got my review copy early, but I’ve noticed that “Better to Beg Forgiveness” is now available from Amazon.com.