The Sharp End (Hammer's Slammers Series #7)

The Sharp End - David Drake When I picked up The Sharp End as a teen, I wasn't expecting much. Some quality action, violence, and adventure. That's all I asked for. Sadly, the book couldn't even deliver on that.

However, it should firstly be noted that this is "science fiction" by only the loosest and most liberal of definitions. Aside from spaceships and settlements on other planets, there is not a single element in the entire book that wasn't present on Earth in 1993. Forget presenting a rich, vibrant universe filled with creative ideas. There isn't even anything faintly futuristic about this book, even in the most generic science fiction sense.

One would think that at least the WEAPONS would be different in some way. Nope. Same old guns as ever, although the drones in this book's universe are even deadlier than the ones we have on Earth. (And they're given a different name)

Unfortunately, the book is equally bad at pulp fiction as it is at science fiction. The Sharp End begins by introducing each character through a short story.

Both characters and stories are as dull and generic as can be. There is the big, hulking, brute who is secretly kind and sensitive. There is the scary-calm, slightly psychotic mega-badass. There is the female badass who has no other distinguishing features other than her reproductive organs. Finally, we have the unit's leader, Major Matthew Coke, who is a determined, tough, but still human badass.

Once the crew finally lands on the crime-infested planet, it all follows a very familiar format. We're introduced to a poor, struggling, beautiful woman Pilar, who Coke saves and then falls in love with. There is the display of evil and brutality by the criminals soon after our heroes land. This is then followed by an effective early strike from the badass squad.

There is no real intrigue or complications injected into the battle between the squad and the gangs. In fact, the gang members are utterly faceless and forgettable.

Furthermore, at no point does the reader feel that the protagonists are in serious danger. Nor does there seem to be much at stake, aside from the unexceptional damsel in distress.

Not only is the story generic almost to the point of self-parody, but it is told in the most dull, curt manner possible. The action is not vivid, nor is it brought alive by the author's imagery. In fact, there is rarely much description at all.

The result is that the "action" primarily consists of one character pointing his gun at an enemy, shooting, and either hitting or missing. With little offered beyond that.

Whether you're looking for a sci-fi action story or a pulp fiction tale with even a minimal amount of entertainment, you will be sorely disappointed in this offering.