Review: The Circle War

The Circle War


The second entry in Mack Maloney’s Wingman series, The Circle War remains every bit as ridiculous, if not more so, than the first. If one desires accurate depictions of military hardware, any kind of deep plot, or moral ambiguity, this book is not for you.

However, if you desire a tale of a man named after a fighter aircraft flying his super- F-16 from everywhere from Hawaii to Yankee Stadium, fighting everything from “air pirates” to Mongolian horsemen, and periodically recharging by bedding a beautiful woman jumping right into his lap, this book is for you.

What I like is that there’s absolutely no attempt at making this “realistic”, “plausible”, or “grounded” apart from sometimes getting the equipment names right (but only sometimes). It’s just a continent-spanning parade of goofiness, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

Review: Strikemasters


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.


Yes, we do get huge, loving descriptions of the super-tech. Why did you ask?

Zombie Sorceresses

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.

Tank Booms

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.


Review: Wingman


Mack Maloney’s Wingman kicks off a post-apocalyptic fighter pilot series that is pure undistilled, full-strength, high-dose 80s ridiculous fun. I was reminded of everything from Iron Eagle to Area 88 to just goofing off in the Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations scenario editor.

Who and What

Wingman is the story of Hawker Hunter (the name is not a coincidence), a fighter pilot who flies in the shattered remnants of the US after an apocalyptic third world war. It is the story of his super F-16. It is the story of Hunter fighting lots and lots and lots of stock 1980s Post-Apocalyptic Bandits and enemy fighter aircraft of both western and eastern design. It is the story of Hunter bedding beautiful woman after beautiful woman. It is the story of Hunter going to various theme park apocalypse cities and places.

It moves very well and has all the characterization you’d expect from a cheap thriller. And that’s all it needs.


The infodumps are there, but they don’t really feel like that much of a burden. The book flows very breezily, and it feels like everything is part of the fun. I feel obligated to say that a lot of technical description is (brace yourself) not the most realistically accurate.

If you have strenuous objections to this, please do not read the book. Otherwise, enjoy how an F-16 equipped with six 20mm Vulcans and ship-busting Sidewinders can blast its way through the competition.

Zombie Sorceresses

It would be easier to say “what did the zombie sorceresses not have to set up?” when describing the plot of this book. Most of the aircraft in this book have the same names as historical ones, and that’s about it.

It’s crazy. But it’s a good type of crazy.

Tank Booms

With the exception of a clunky out-of-the-cockpit action scene in the middle of the book, the action is ridiculously over the top and well-done. Yes, it’s as out-there as everything else, but it’s fast and novel.

The Only Score That Really Matters

This is one of the most fun cheap thrillers I’ve read in a while. I highly, highly, highly recommend it.