Review: The BlackcollarReview:

The Blackcollar by Timothy Zahn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ll start off with a reminder that I use the tooltips for Goodreads ratings and 2 stars is “it was ok”. It may possibly have hurt that this was my first Zahn novel and I’ve heard so much about him because of the Thrawn Star Wars novels. But I think it’s really more that the novel reads like it was written in the 1980s (which it was). It’s full of that “karate stuff is cool ” feeling from the 80s that culminated in films like The Karate Kid. I tend to do alright with Golden Age SF because I like the philosophical aspect behind most of the characters’ dialogue. But the 1980s seems to just fall into an uncanny valley – it’s almost like the modern SF I read, but just full of enough older tropes to feel a bit clunky. This story also seemed to revolve a bit too much on the one character in the know always having a bunch of gambits going on at once and refusing to reveal anything to the main character. So sometimes the wins felt a bit cheap. I also think the idea of training super karate soldiers to fight aliens just doesn’t make sense in the context of an interspecies war.

So, your mileage may vary with this one. Maybe you like 1980s SF tropes or maybe you just like Zahn’s style. It wasn’t really for me – but I’m not put off from Zahn as a writer; I’ll definitely give one of his newer novels a shot.

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