The Contingency War by G J Ogden
Published on: September 20, 2019
This is a science fiction novel I see in two very different lights. The Contingency that I started reading and the one I ended with were so very different from each other. It was a cohesive story line, but the reality of the story I was reacting too at the beginning was not the one I was reading in the end.
No-one comes in peace. Every being in the galaxy wants something, and is willing to take it by force.
The Hedalt were no different. They came from the distant reaches of the galaxy to wage war. Their fleet wanted to take Earth for its prize, but we were ready. We were stronger.
For years, we fought them, ship-to-ship, until we scattered their forces and drove them back. Pursuing the Hedalt fleet to their home world, we delivered the decisive blow. We nuked their planet and wiped them out for good.
Or so we thought.
For decades, Earth Fleet sent out Deep Space Recon missions to scour the galaxy and clean up the remnants of the Hedalt Empire. Eventually, we found only ghosts – empty outposts and long-dead colonies. But, close to the edge of known space, I – Captain Taylor Ray – and my crew are about to make a discovery that will change everything.
The war isn’t over. The war has yet to begin.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t begin the story connecting with any of the characters. When the story opens the four-person crew is near the end of a long deep space recon mission and, to me, had perhaps become a bit lax in protocol or work place decorum. It is this lack of work place etiquette that really, really bothered me. Or perhaps I’ve seen too many Star Trek shows with its many protocols and regulations and when I see something that differs it doesn’t feel natural. Knowing the description of the book and how it relates to a war that may not have ended, I had hopes that perhaps Casey, whom I liked least, would be killed off early. (Probably not a good sign when you’re actually wanting one of the characters to be killed). I think the biggest issue is that it starts immediately. If I had seen the characters performing in an office-appropriate manner who then later had an uncharacteristic lack of decorum moment, I would have felt differently. But it didn’t, we’re introduced to this aspect first and then later is when we see the business side of them.
One of the ongoing themes within the book is how the four-person crew are matched together personality wise. Long deep space missions require so incredibly much from an individual – you are alone, isolated, and away from those who can help you should something go wrong. Therefore, certain personalities are required and how they are matched together perfectly is something that is thought about and discussed at multiple points within the novel. This is also why I suspect the story begins the way it did – introducing two characters who appreciated each other’s humor and silliness and showing us, the reader, this very specific important piece of information.
During the team’s recon mission they pick up an unusual reading and go to check it out. This then leads to a discovery about the Hedalt empire that completely surprises them. As the team begins to look into what was causing the unusual reading, I began noticing how much the book and its direction had shifted and changed. Issues that I had at the beginning of the book regarding the work place weren’t even something to notice and consider as I got further into the story. The story had changed so incredibly much that my perception of characters and reasons behind things had altered too.
Even though the last half of the book went better for me than the first half, I’m still not sure I ever truly connected with any of the characters and that may be ok, especially now that I know the entire story. What I can say is that as I progressed further into the book my perception of each one of them drastically changed. I also appreciated how the issues I had at the beginning were reduced enough for me to enjoy the book more for it’s actual story and not my own personal hang-ups.
Rating: 4 stars