Net Force by Tom Clancy
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Beginning of a worthwhile series, August 4, 2003
I've read a few of the NetForce novels, including this one that launched the series, and thought I'd pop around and see what some of the Amazon.com users like me thought about them. I'm really surprised they're not more well received. Some thoughts in reply to several comments I've seen readers make here: 1) Tom Clancy did not write these novels. He and Steve Pieczenik are listed as "created by," and it appears that a writer named Steve Perry may have done most of the actual writing of at least two of the three NetForce novels I've read. His name is an attention-getter, and it is somewhat odd to me that so many reviewers comment on "this isn't Clancy's best work." Of course not. It's obviously not his writing, so the books cannot be accurately reviewed from that angle. 2) Comments regarding there being less than Clancy's usual tons of technical detail are irrelevant as well. Personally the technical detail bores me anyway, and there is too much here for my tastes, making it one of the weaknesses of the NetForce series IMO. YMMV; some reviewers want more technical detail, I want less. There's enough in this series to be illustrative, but for me (I prefer plot exposition, moving the story along, and character development) the writer stops to explain various weapons more than enough. It slows the story down, but at least it's not too distracting. 3) Someone commented that this series "is not written for people who actually use computers." Ahem. I have operated a commercial website for several years as a part-time job, and my full-time job is on my PC as well. I have rebuilt and upgraded entire computer systems by myself with minimal instruction. I practically *live* in e-mail. And I do enjoy this series. Again, perhaps the reviewer was looking for some kind of extensive technical detail on the computer systems and how they function and interface, but gimme a break, that's *work* to me. I read for pleasure, not to take my work with me into those hours. The internet crime focus and extensive descriptions of a futuristic virtual-reality-driven internet are definitely interesting reading. Having said all that, the prospective reader of this series must also be aware that it is not just a series of self-enclosed stories but an actual serial of sorts. One of the bad guys in this novel returns later in the "Night Moves" book (third in the series), our heroic geek Jay Gridley meets someone in that one who changes his life and becomes part of future episodes, the working relationship between Alex & Toni (with occasional comments about an attraction) bears fruit in future volumes, and Colonel Howard's family life (plus the life of his son Tyrone) is another thread that runs throughout much of the series. The NetForce books realistically include people of multiple races, backgrounds, personalities, interests, religions, politics, etc., and consistently have the interesting multiple perspective of viewing the story through the eyes of various characters. It also introduces us to some little-known martial arts, primarily from Indonesia, but in the later "CyberNation" book we get some sharply drawn bad guys and one of them has a Brazilian fighting style. By and large, this is a series which I will continue to follow with interest.