Saturday, 29 August 2020

Grubane by Karl Drinkwater

Grubane by Karl Drinkwater
Published by Organic Apocalypse on the 13th June 2020.

Included in my Vegan Bookshop

Major Grubane is commander of the Aurikaa, the most feared cruiser in the UFS arsenal.
His crew is handpicked and fiercely loyal. Together, they have never failed a mission, and their reputation precedes them.
But this time he's been sent to a key planet that is caught up in political tensions at the centre of the freedom debate. What he thought was a simple diplomatic mission turns out to be the hardest choice of his career. His orders: eliminate one million inhabitants of the planet, and ensure their compliance.
Grubane has also rediscovered an ancient game called chess, and plays it against the ship AI as a form of mental training. But maybe it could be more than that as he finds himself asking questions. Can orders be reinterpreted? How many moves ahead is it possible for one man to plan? And how many players are involved in this game?

The enigmatic Major Grubane was one of the supporting characters I met in Karl Drinkwater's full length novel Lost Solace. Already having gained a sense of him from that encounter with Opal and Clarissa it was interesting for me to flesh out more of his personality here (although if you haven't already read read Lost Solace, I think Grubane could be read independently as a satisfying standalone novella). Drinkwater concentrates his focus on a single mission in Grubane's long career and narrates it from the point of view of an AI splinter, Aurikaa12, which he is gradually coaching to play chess. Through their games, Grubane and Aurikaa12 explore deeper philosophical concepts.

Grubane himself is a very self-contained man so it was difficult for me to fully empathise with his decisions. I appreciated seeing more of the background to this world. Hints of racism and religious intolerance undermine the believed superiority of the militaristic UFS empire building strategy and Grubane's questioning of where the moral line should be drawn makes for tense scenarios. I admit I felt more distanced from Grubane than I have from the other books in this series, but it was still a good read and the unexpected reappearance of chess in this book (after The Greenbecker Gambit last month) has me tempted to start trying to play again.

Meet the author   

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He's a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you'll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn't writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

Author links: 
Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads

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