Review: The Blue Effect

The Blue Effect

The final entry in Harvey Black’s Effect series is The Blue Effect. This book manages to be slightly better than its predecessors in some ways and a lot worse in another. There’s a sorta-kinda-semi-plot where the British face the Soviets in what could be the make-or-break battle near Hanover. But once again, it never really clicks into a whole that it could have been. If The Red Effect was just listing the ingredients before hurriedly pouring them into a bowl and The Black Effect was having them sit in the mixing bowl doing nothing, this at least turns them into batter-but not a finished dish.

The highlight of this book, besides more tanks exploding, is a very long scene in which a Vulcan bomber soars into action. A part of me was going “oh come on, this relic would probably be shot down, malfunction or just miss”, but another part of me, the part that likes unconventional units, was going “WOW NICE”. I mean, I’d love to read (or even write) a book of unconventional relic units flying into battle. This is not that book.

What really sours the The Blue Effect is not any of the action in the main book, but rather its anticlimax of an ending. Here was where going the Chieftains/Dr. Strangelove route and just nuking everything might very well have been better. Instead, it’s a have your cake and eat it too deal where after a few plotnukes and a few losses, the Warsaw Pact just gives up very abruptly. It’s a circumstance where either another full length tide-turning installment (with proper plotting) or trimming the entire three-book series into one could have been better. And there’s a lot of fat to trim.

Furthermore, all of the hindsight-driven greater “micro”- accuracy of the series (See the now-known durability of tanks with Kontakt-series reactive armor! See the proper tank mix in GSFG instead of just having everything be a T-72!) is squandered by this “macro”-level flop in the conclusion. Whatever issues there are with a clean NATO win in 1984, there are a lot more with it happening in this fashion. If the goal is realism, it’s implausible. If the goal is storytelling, it’s a contrivance and makes the victory seem unearned.

The result is something that could have risen higher than it did, both in this specific book and the overall series.

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