Monday, March 8, 2021

Review: Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Title: Dogs of War
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Series: Dogs of War #1
Pages: 266
ISBN: 9781786693877
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Published: 2 November 2017
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Purchased

My name is Rex. I am a good dog. Rex is also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. With Dragon, Honey and Bees, he's part of a Multiform Assault Pack operating in the lawless anarchy of Campeche, south-eastern Mexico.

Rex is a genetically engineered Bioform, a deadly weapon in a dirty war. He has the intelligence to carry out his orders and feedback implants to reward him when he does. All he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and Master says he's got to kill a lot of enemies.

But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow Bioforms even have a right to exist? And what happens when Rex slips his leash?

You might think you know what sentience is. You’d be wrong.

In Dogs of War Adrian Tchaikovsky once again shifts the boundaries of possibility of non-human intelligence. The novel follows the members of a Multiform Assault Pack consisting of Rex, Honey, Bees and Dragon — bioforms designed and bred to be ruthless, obedient killing machines. To their masters they are mere tools to be used and discarded, but iIn reality they are far more than their creators could ever imagine.

Tchaikovsky excels at portraying non-human intelligence in it’s multitude of forms. He manages to give each bioform a distinct personality suited not only to their form, but also to their function in the pack. You can’t help but fall in love with them and feel compassion towards their plight. Especially as they slowly discover the reality of the situation and their place in the world.

“That is our choice. You want us to follow human orders. You think that is better.” The bear’s animal stare was nothing if not judgemental.

Dogs of War is larger in scope and far more nuanced than it first appears. The novel tackles huge themes exploring the boundaries of sentience, morality, self determination, freedom and ownership.

Technology is not Good Tech or Bad Tech. It is the Master who is guilty for what it does.

It's difficult to talk about the novel without spoiling it. You have to experience the revelations for yourself as the truth is slowly revealed. The ending broke my heart. Rex is not just a Good Dog. He is the Best Dog!

To say that Dogs of War is a mind-bending read would be wholly inadequate. It took me weeks after finishing it to come to terms with all the implications. It blew my mind just a little… Highly recommended!

The Rating: 8/10 (Great!)

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