Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War
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Top reviews from the United States
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...Long story short: This book treats its readers like idiots. Something which is hammered home with the endless footnotes that are completely unnecessary. (Peter Watts does it right; these guys do it very wrong indeed.)
For a much better book on the same topic, see Twilight's Last Gleaming by John Michael Greer.
Why? The plot is choppy and confusing, the characters are totally implausible and wooden, and the writing style leaves much to be desired. In short, this book disappointed me immensely. I had read only positive reviews. Perhaps I should have checked more thoroughly. Indeed, I only wish I had done so.
Do not read. Better value to be had almost anywhere else.
Reading Tom Clancy, military members will think "yeah, that seems about right..." Reading Ghost Fleet, the flow of a good story is consistently interrupted by an inner voice crying out "that's stupid - it would never happen that way."
Example: (spoiler) The book's opening hook is an astronaut getting locked out of the space station. It ends with "...his remaining oxygen. Would it be enough time for the Eastern Seaboard to come into view? His wife and grown boys were vacationing on Cape Cod, and he wanted to look down at them one last time."
I found this image fascinating and kept thinking about it, but my thoughts were "This is a good story gone stupid. There is absolutely no way the personality type of this character is going to spend his last minutes of life mooning over his family on Earth. He is 100% locked in on getting back in that space station...or bringing it down with him."
The whole book reads as if written by a Hollywood screen writer (or Washington DC think tankers) with no real sense of military attitudes or culture. It's too grating to ignore.
I enjoyed this, but it's scary. I really truly hope our military never fall prey to the scenarios portrayed in this novel.
The only thing preventing me from given this book 5 stars was, for me, the ending seemed a bit rushed. After the huge amount of detail given the lead-up to the final battle, the actual battle seemed a bit perfunctory - I want to relish how the baddies were at last given their just deserts and the final denouement was too brisk.
Top reviews from other countries
The political setup makes no sense : come on, a major reversal of alliance by a great power because, a vice-admiral meets a governing body in a submarine base built in a cave inside an island ? He would be lucky to speak to the Chief of Naval Operations or the defense minister, and he would go to them, not the opposite, especially not the whole government...
This is really painful to read as it mixes actual correct details (far too many) with horse crap. For instance take this short scene : a Chinese missile is shot at a F-35 and the pilot takes evasive action to avoid it. However unbeknownst to him, the Chinese have managed to introduce a 1mm antenna into the design of 6 chips and the missile is homing on it. He understands he is doomed and spends his last few seconds staring at his girlfriend picture before going kaboom.
So what's correct ?
1/ The introduction of subtle bugs or hidden functionalities in chips is a real concern, these are not usually conceived from scratch but by buying licenses for different functionalities to different suppliers (an ARM core design, a broadcom controller and whatnot) and bundling that in a single chip to have all the features you need. So at one point somebody could introduce something and you'd never know (or keep a bug they have discovered secret to exploit it, I'm looking at you NSA). That's a problem.
2/ We can (kinda) build antennas directly inside the die of a processor, using the same process at least.
Now, the horsecrap :
1/ That problem exists pour subtle bugs and limited functionalities. 1mm² is the size of the whole L2 cache on a modern server core. This is enormous. It will be noticed. It's not like adding a few gates to introduce a subtle bug.
2/ I've not even dared to compute what power it could emit, because it is dwarfed even by the chip Vcc, and the whole stuff is shielded anyway. An there are two big generators behind, driven by the engines and the whole plane is EM shielded anyway. If you have electronics to detect that, you could just pick up the plane itself from Alaska without this convoluted scheme...
3/ Were I a F-35 pilot, knowing I have a missile I can't escape incoming in two sec, I would not spend them looking at my gf picture : I would pull the bloody handle of my MB US16E and eject immediately. Dude.
You also have navy officer proud of saying that they forged ahead after the two class Nimitz aircraft carrier they protected were destroyed exactly were the Chinese had drawn the line (to total annihilation of course, but here they don't seem to expect to be court-martialed).
Etc, the whole book is like that, with a list of materials and techniques used incorrectly. It reads like the name dropping of an half digested list of weapons and techniques, used incorrectly at every page, and without serving the story...
Maybe it was technical detail, or just overflowing of technology ‘of the future’ in general
Story-line interesting, funny at times (Polish element)
....but you can’t shake the feeling that this ‘bright’ technological, smart future - which frankly we already see grabbing us by throats - the Internet-of things - will be most likely the source of our undoing...
Troops on constant drugs, outsourced high-tech, trans humanism... scary
you might find it hard to stitch everything together that is going on unless you have the time to read it in one long sitting.
Yet another exiting climax that fizzled out unfortunately.
Ah well back to the library