David Moles. A Soldier of the City. (Engineering Infinity).

A complex, layered story. It starts, intriguingly, with a couple of section which enable us to have the scene set, introductions made, but kept slightly detached, through the perspective of scenes viewed on security type cameras.

It’s far future, and the story starts with a feast day, in which the living goddess, is very publicly and very massively killed. The protagonist, Ish, is a soldier in her service, on leave, witness her destruction writ large on the sky, but with her final moments having her seemingly make eye contact. The nature of his love for her is that he has no thoughts about leaving his wife and child to seek the enemy in their asteroid belt hidey-hole.

There’s an excellent sequence when he comes face to face with the living god, the now widower partner of Ish’s beloved goddess. When the god asks Ish if he loved his now dead goddess, Ish replies in the negative – a virtually treasonable and punishable by death response. But he expands – “I still love her”, is his explanation.

There’s a lot of hard SF in the detail of the genmod Ish undergoes to meet the enemy, but at the moment of combat, Moles slides the rug out from under the reader, and the story becomes thoughtful and reflective.

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