Mack Maloney’s Strikemasters follows in the footsteps of his earlier “Wingman” books, being set much later and with a much different background, but maintaining the elements that made that novel so much fun.
Who and What
The book can be summed up as “Special Operations Forces in super-powered C-17s fight terrorists in a super-powered mountain fortress.” It’s the sort of bombast that characterizes Maloney’s work and makes it able to navigate the dark technothriller decade of the 2000s without many problems.
And to his credit, Maloney is not afraid to throw challenges and imperfections at his super-characters and super-planes. He’s not afraid to kill central characters off. Doing this while going full-crazy ahead might be dissonant on paper, but it works here, being a writer who can have his cake and eat it too.
Of course, the characters, good and evil, are little but shallow stereotypes, but this is the kind of book where this isn’t that big a deal. And the last part of the book is a little rushed. But this also isn’t that much of an issue.
DEEP HISTORY OF TEM
Yes, we do get huge, loving descriptions of the super-tech. Why did you ask?
Like every Mack Maloney novel, this book is full of bombastic, ridiculous super-contrivances. But it strangely doesn’t feel as contrived. A lot of technothrillers are stuffed with what Nader Elfhefnawy rightly calls the “illusion of realism” . As they became steadily more ridiculous, this issue amplified. The pure bombastic unrestrained “go for it” attitude of this book and Maloney’s others solves the problem.
The action, as mentioned above, manages a good balance between “over-the-top” and “challenging”. It could have failed in either direction. It could have had a jarring effect of flaws clashing with the “look at the superplane go!” It also could have had the superplane effortlessly cakewalking to victory. Strikemasters did not fall into either pit, and is all the better for it.
The Only Score That Really Matters
This is another excellent Mack Maloney title, with him being able to leverage his strengths to make a tale of super C-17s doing superpowered feats in a well-told fashion. Highly recommended.