Point Blank is the second installment in the Starfirst:Force Recon series by David Sherman and Dan Cragg. Like its predecessor, it follows the intelligence gathering and commando strike mission of the Marine Recon unit of the elite 34th FIST (Fleet Initial Strike Team). While I enjoyed this book, it was more of a standard Special Ops adventure than the first book in the series (Backshot – Starfist: Force Recon Book 1 add link: http://wp.me/pWa2h-7f). To that end, while it was a fun read, it lacked some of the luster and social commentary that marked the initial salvo in this spin-off series.
The Starfist series follows the adventures of the 34th FIST (Fleet Initial Strike Team) Marines as they fight to defend the Confederation of worlds set around Earth, and the Force Recon subseries follows the adventures of the reconnaissance teams associated with them. That makes this series more closely tied to very-deep-in-enemy territory raids and intelligence gathering missions.
As for the universe it’s set in, the Confederation is the largest union of planets, but is not the only human government in the region, and as the series progresses, it becomes clear that other species are also lurking out their in the stars.
While Point Blank is a perfectly serviceable second installment in the Starfirst: Force Recon series, it lacked some of the edge of the first book. Oh, don’t get me wrong, David Sherman and Dan Cragg still provide an exciting Special Operations Mil Fic adventure that kept me turning the pages until the book was done, but it didn’t have the duplicity and depth that the first volume did.
I suppose in one sense this is inevitable if the authors were going to actually explore life in a Force Recon unit. To use David Sherman’s words:
“Marine Recon is a division-level unit, each division has a Recon Battalion. Among Marines, Recon is looked up to as badder than the bad, and many Marine infantrymen (and others) aspire to be tough enough to serve with them. But Recon’s function is to conduct reconnaissance and gather intelligence for division operations. We’d need more than that to write a series.
Fortunately, there’s another Recon at Fleet Marine Force level: Force Recon. If Recon is the baddest of the bad, then Force Recon is the baddest of the baddest.
Marine Corps Force Recon conducts reconnaissance and intelligence gathering missions far behind enemy lines. Force Recon conducts small-unit raids on enemy centers of gravity far behind the lines. Force Recon runs… Well, let me put it this way: I know of missions Force Recon has run that I never had a high enough security clearance to know about.”
(David Sherman, http://www.novelier.com/forcerecon.html).
Point Blank examines a deep penetration mission on the planet of Ravenette,where Confederation forces are under siege by rebels from the Coalition. Though the Confederation has considerably higher firepower, one of their greatest advantages, a sophisticated string-of-peals satellite network is being destroyed by planet side laser batteries. To combat this threat, The Fourth Force Recon Company is dropped deep behind enemy lines to take out the batteries, gather intel about the enemy and disrupt their operations where possible.
To that end, Point Blank explores a classic Force Recon style mission and does so quite well. It is an exciting read, and an enjoyable one. It does not, however, have the depth of story that the first book does. Additionally, some of my favorite characters from the first book are less central to this volume. Thus, this book did not quite grab me as much as I had hoped.
Even so, it is an enjoyable read and a good book for anyone who wants a classic Special Ops Mil Fic adventure. If you’re not a fan of Military Science Fiction, however, I suggest you pass on this, unless you’ve already read and enjoyed the first book.
 Yes, yes I know…. but to someone who doesn’t know what the Marine Corps Force Recon ARE, it’s a quick short hand way of putting it forward. Maybe it will get them to look it up and so discover the differences, or at least click on the references and get a quick view of the differences.
- First to Fight: Starfist Book I, David Sherman and Dan Cragg (Del Rey, 1997) (sophyanempire.wordpress.com)
- Marines demonstrate their capabilities by air, land, sea (dvidshub.net)
- Backshot: Starfist: Force Recon Book 1, David Sherman and Dan Cragg (Del Rey, 2005) (www.sophyanempire.wordpress.com)
- 1st Recon welcomes new commanding officer (dvidshub.net)
- The Problem with Military Science Fiction: Part 1 (www.sophyanempire.wordpress.com)
- Force Recon rededicates monument (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- Force Recon: At the Commander’s Call (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- Special Operations Speaks (johnmalcolm.me)
- Dog Tag to be Returned to John Crazy Bear, Triple War Veteran (gloucestercitynews.net)
- A Force to Recon With [The Week In Games] (kotaku.com)
- Old school, soldier-cowboy passes on wisdom (dvidshub.net)
- Starting Off On The Wrong Foot (intelloverwatch.com)