Yes, another Adrian Tchaikovsky book. In truth, Dogs of War is the one that I wanted to read all along, but I was too lazy to get it, so I kept reading other books from the author. Was it worth the wait? I am leaning towards no.
No, it's not a bad book. However, I expected something completely different. How would you write a book about a "dog soldier" that is modified genetically and cybernetically to be a perfect weapon, but his motivation is to please his master? I feel like Tchaikovsky took the easy way out with this one. I expected something both endearing and funny, because dogs, and then terribly horrible, because war weapon. Some terribly funny dark satire, maybe. A riff on A Boy and His Dog where the dog is an invincible bear-sized beast, perhaps. But the author went with a little war horror at the beginning, nicely filtered through a dog's understanding with terms like "the bigger enemies and the smaller enemies" to describe child murder, blamed it all on the "master" and proceeded to extrapolate a techno-happy ending of the entire thing.
At this point I feel like Adrian Tchaikovsky is more in love with the ultimate potential of his ideas to truly develop them and the characters in his stories. All his books so far started with some great ideas and world building, then someone presses the fast forward button where everything was solved by "the future". Hey, what happened with the story and the people I was invested in? Never you mind, we're in the future now! Rejoice!
To summarize: the development hurdles for "bioforms" are never explained, so don't expect any real technological or scientific discussion. The motivation of the dog is actually another implant in his brain, which kind of invalidates the whole premise. Then there are a lot of other animals, which sort of invalidates the title. The master is a run of the mill psycho villain so there is no real human/dog relationship. The horrors of war are filtered and then limited to wounds that are further filtered by implants which can suppress pain. There is no humor in the book, only a depressingly linear progression of the technology described at the beginning, too fast to make you invested in any of its parts, and naively positive in its outcome. There are a lot of repetitions of the "good boy" idea, like if repeating it it becomes more poignant. At this point I wonder if the author ever had a dog.
So I am going to rate this book average at most. I didn't hate it, but its only truly positive attribute is that it's short. Kind of a let down.