For BV Larson’s Steel World, I returned to a familiar place-the land of spacesuit commandos. Almost every single value checks out. Dystopian background? Check. The main character is a super-special spacesuit commando in a super-special spacesuit commando unit (in this case, a secret dirty tricks “Legion”)? Check. The main characters use nothing more than power armor and ray guns that don’t seem to really do much? Check. The tactics are iffy and everyone uses Roman ranks? Check.
The only novel feature, besides the use of “rules of war” that are clearly structured to enable the plot, is revivification. However, in practice all it does is remove tension, best summed up by having people -multiple times at that- want to be “killed” for the sake of convenience.
For all my complaining, Steel World manages to dodge the biggest problem with the subgenre. Its training sequences are not overly long, and I was thankful for that. And for all its issues, it’s still readable and fun as a mindless spacesuit commando novel.