Operation Shield (Cassandra Kresnov)
by Joel Shepherd
Cover Artist: Stephan Martiniere
Review by Mel Jacob
Pyr Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616148959
Date: 08 April 2014 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A new Cassandra Kresnov novel, Operation Shield has all of Joel Shepherd's familiar themes and a few new ones. He excels at strong female characters, plenty of action, political machinations, corporate politics, and what it means to be human. Cassandra, an exceptional GI, is caught in an effort of GIs, fierce androids fighters, to gain their freedom on Droze, a distant planet in League space. Federal politicians, fearful of starting another war with the League, demand Sandy and Fleet withdrawal after a fierce battle in which a large number of the GI's are destroyed by corporations controlling Droze.
Sandy had encountered three young Droze orphans earlier and taken them under her wing. When League forces capture the children, she will stop at nothing to free them. Ordered to withdraw, the wounded Sandy, along with the children, is evacuated to the Callay for treatment. Despite grievous injuries, she recovers and decides to adopt the children.
A new political party forms in the Grand Council determined to avoid another war with the League and proposes constitutional amendments to prevent it. Aware such restrictions will endanger both the Federation and GIs, Sandy and her allies take steps to defeat that.
A group of 200 GIs manages to escape Droze and ask for asylum. They are settled on a remote island away from the capital of Tanushan. Disillusioned over the deaths of so many GI's by the Droze corporations, Sandy decides to withdraw from efforts to fight for GI emancipation and integration in the Federation, and focus on motherhood.
Regi, a strange non-combat GI comes to Tanushan. Highly intelligent, he claims not to know who made him or what his capabilities. He appears to have some functions similar to Cai, a Talee GI. Ragi has been held incommunicado while Security tries to determine what he can do. He is able to make contact with a young girl who is paralyzed in the real world and take her to a virtual reality where she is normal. However, outside events interfere when League forces attack and try to capture him. At the same time, a lawyer working on GI asylum requests is murdered.
Ari, a Callay Security representative and a trainee SWAT GI, Amirah, manage to hold off the attackers, but at a heavy cost to the GI. Sandy and her friends defeat the attackers. Fortunately, Amirah responds to medical treatment. Amazed at Ragi's abilities, officials are still suspicious.
Talee once occupied Droze and left behind technology the League used to create higher-level GIs. Their representatives show up from time to time and have helped the Federation in the past. Presently, the League is regarded as unstable and the drive to take over Droze and produce even higher-level GIs poses a major threat to the Federation.
As usual, Shepherd offers an action story with plenty of issues to ponder, especially since so many apply to the current world political situation. Enough unresolved issues remain to generate more adventures for Sandy, the Federation, and her children.