I tore through the Kindle book Hammerhead by Jason Andrew Bond for two good reasons. First, it is not an overly long book. Second, it is a fast-paced pulp adventure that I enjoyed a lot, though it is not without its flaws.
Hammehead is a bit of near-future military sci-fi with a chase movie plot line and a hero who mixes elements of Top Gun with the personality of Bobby from Supernatural. A retired fighter pilot makes a living scrapping spaceships, but when he finds a living person among the wreckage, the attempts on his life begins. To stay alive he has to overcome an increasingly large stack of enemies while figuring out why someone is after him in the first place.
This book is well-edited with a strong format. Bond’s prose is solid, if not inspirational, but he does tell a god plot with some interesting characters.
The story plays out with themes I would expect from a secular-style military veteran. There is a mixture of old war story, the classic warriors’ theme of an old elite who can show up the new dogs but just wants to be at peace, and the increasingly common theme in American literature of man-vs-government from the conservative instead of the traditionally liberal point of view.
Bond does an excellent job placing the story about 150 years into the future. He has cleverly woven a subplot (did the alien invasion really happen or was it faked) that speaks to the American 9-11 “truth-er” malarky as well as the moon landing conspiracy theory.
The cast is manageably small for a fast-paced action adventure. For military sci-fi or action fans there are encounters that range from hide-and-seek in jet helicopters, dog-fights, gun fights, and a few flat out fights. Walking mech technology shows up a little bit, as well as kit-based super-soldier gadgets. It is clear to see that Bond has made a coherent world in his head but does not waste too much time with David Weber-esque info dumps. Bond shows instead of tells, and if it doesn’t show up on screen then you don’t need to know. A great example was the fusion-powered semi truck that shows up in the middle of the book. How long has there been fusion power? Why do jets still need fuel then? It doesn’t matter, so you don’t have to read about it.
Downsides: There is a lot of torture in this book. Yuck. That could be told more than shown, thanks. When both sides are willing to flay people alive for their ends, literally, (I mentioned yuck) the hero seems a little less heroic, and the only real reason to choose the protagonist is because they don’t enjoy it as much. That is crappy ethics. If I shoot 100 people and wish I didn’t have to versus shooting 100 people and have sloppy dreams about it, I’ve still shot 100 people. At some point self-defense is not the justification it’s cracked up to be. In terms of characterization, there was no really good explanation for why so many people were sucked in by the bad person. It simply cannot all be sex. There is not enough time or energy in the world to sex so many people into submission. I have known many secular military types in my life, and a fair majority of them have a hate on for religious belief, whether overt or subliminal. Once again a bad guy thinks God wants them to commit genocide for the betterment of all.
God wants us to be patient and kind. When it’s time for genocide he needs no help. See also: Sodom and Gomorrah, Egypt’s first-born, and the book of Revelation.
Americana values (often mistaken for Christian ones) of family-first, improvisation and adaptation, military strength, and moderate battlefield mercy resonate well with contemporary culture, so that has to help.
I am hoping that the next book in this setting (and yes, I will read it) has less torture-themed plots. I enjoyed reading through this book and I want to learn more about the world in Bond’s head.
Recommended for military and action fans.