War and Money
Sofia Diana Gabel
SD Books, 2019
Perhaps the most griping aspect of Sofia Diana Gabel’s science fiction novel War and Money is how the protagonist, Dax, endures. As with most sci-fi premised on battle, Gabel gives readers a ‘hero’ at odds with the world around her, someone out of step with the dominate culture. However, it ought not be too difficult to see in teenaged Dax nearly every youth drafted into armies to fight enemies they’ve never met and who have never done anything threatening to them. In the future as in the past and present, war is waged by the wealthy and fought by the poor.
At 15 in 2187, Dax is a child soldier, a conscript with no desire to be a fighter and without the mindless temperament needed to take orders without question. She questions from the first learning to keep her mouth shut but refusing to not look for answers. As with most science fiction and space opera, there are multiple factions vying against each other, no small amount of internal strife, and unseen machinations. The Katarga, the Piltrak, and the Jurale are all enemies this Earth’s Global Command stands against. But why? As a advanced soldier, the front line infantry, Dax is disposable cannon fodder and it almost breaks her will: “I’m to die in one of the absurd endless wars against being I’ll never get to know or understand.”
However, Dax shows a steel and resolve well beyond her years. She slowly gains allies, navigates the nonsense that is the army, and finds answers one way or another. Yet will she be able to live long enough even if she does find the truth to do anything with the knowledge?
Initially, War and Money may be difficult to get through for readers as Gabel is gifted at putting us directly in the mindset of Dax. She is berated regularly, not just in a military-esque drill sargent manner but out right bullied by both peers and superiors. What is perhaps most maddening is she is expected to know how and why to do things that have never been shown or explained to her. When she fails, she’s attacked emotionally, mentally, and not a few times physically. This may seem over the top, however, this is the default setting for all training in the modern military. It is an astute way for Gabel to make it clear to readers the future isn’t utopian nor dystopian but more of the same.
Action dominates this novel and when there is downtime between training, fights, and flights, the details of the background are slowly revealed. Readers will have to pace themselves, however. Written from Dax’s point of view, we inhabit a confused and angry teen. Gabel is skilled at making this character’s thoughts and feelings our own which can lead readers into missing key elements or become impatient eager for ‘something to happen’ (both standard adolescent flaws). Readers will find themselves having to ‘hurry up and wait’ as Gabel allows her adventure to unfold at its own natural pace. However, staying with the narrative will be promising. For readers who love interstellar action, War and Money will please as it will for those who love their science fiction to be slightly allegorical.
About the Author
Sofia Diana Gabel born in Sydney, Australia, now calls California home. Sofia is a multi-genre fiction writer with degrees in conservation and wildlife biology, and archaeology, with graduate coursework in technical and creative writing. She enjoys being out in nature when she’s not glued to her desk writing or researching a new story idea. Writing is a true passion of hers, born from a love of the written word that can transport the reader to different places or worlds and deliver them back to reality, safe and sound. She has eight novels published, with the latest book a YA science fiction, War and Money, centered around the theme of greed, corruption, and manipulation. She enjoys writing strong female protagonists into her stories, but doesn’t restrict herself only to a female point of view. In addition to novels, she’s published several novellas, short stories, and articles.
Please check out her website: http://www.sofiadianagabel.com
Follow her on social media: Twitter: @sofiadianagabel