Just finished listening to “The Chaplain’s War” by Brad Togersen Saturday. All props to Brad for his successes, but I can honestly say it was a very well written piece that left me with an overall feeling of “meh”. In fact, it was as if I’d been preached to but in a very passive-aggressive way by someone with a degree in cultural relations.
The main character left me “meh”. He comes across immediately as an unlikable Millennial with a very disengaged, noncommittal worldview and it takes a really long time to actually care if he gets eaten by aliens or not (which sets the whole “meh” meme for the book.)
The overall portrayal of military people felt one-sided and cartoonish. The cliche attempt at Heinlein-ification ala Starship Troopers training narrative was another “oh, lookey at what he did” “meh”.
Another point that got kind of odd was the blending of “God’s hand” as a sort of excuse for the Deus Ex Machina occurrences that reinforced the P-A preaching. The plotting there was transparent and, frankly, vaguely insulting on an intellectual level.
However, the word-crafting was quite good. Absolutely cannot fault the writing. Plus, I did manage to finish the book, which is a rarity nowadays.
Another prop for the book is that it’s not a post-apocalyptic screed of “we’re all going die because of ‘issue X’.” There’s actually a positive ending that, while drawn out and low-emotion, at least doesn’t suck for the human race.
So, a book some might love and I feel ambivalent about and possibly an illustration of why stories I like don’t make it into Analog or get awards.