Book Review: Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

This was a fantastic book. One of those entertaining ones. The book follows a group of animal soldiers who have been engineered to fight for humans (Rex, a dog, Honey, a bear, Bees, as in bees, and Dragon, a lizard. All mutated giants.) They have human-like intelligence and can even voice their thoughts with human language. They are installed with the need to obey their master and the inability to hurt humans without a command (Asimov, you are an incredible genius.) But something is wrong. They seem to kill ordinary humans in south-eastern Mexico, including small humans. Causing Rex to ask if he is a good dog.

The book is narrated through Rex’s thoughts, sometimes jumping into a human perspective to clarify the big picture. Rex’s confusion about the situation gives the story an excellent opportunity to ponder the nature of bioform soldiers, freedom of thought and action, who is the enemy and why humans attack each other, the right to kill, and so on. The questions are asked in the story’s context, making the book easy to read and entertaining even when it issues difficult questions.

Despite its highly stereotypical view of the animal mind, I liked the animal perspective. It works here as it gives context to bioforming and why it has been done. The humans wanted to create perfect obedient, mindless soldiers. It didn’t work as animals aren’t dumb, and minds are complex systems to be controlled. If you want to give someone the freedom to choose in a highly complex combat situation, you need to provide them with the autonomy to act. If you give any autonomy at all, you lose complete control, and sneaky thoughts emerge. Of course, you can abuse the thing through fear and violence to act as you want, but even that can backfire. So here we are again, a disobedient soldier who starts to ask whether the acts are done for good motives or not. The book moves beyond that. It even entertains the question of whether bioforms have the right to exist. If they are intelligent, or should they all be destroyed? Are the tools to be blamed for the deeds or the ones pulling the trigger?

The book asks a lot of important questions. But, unfortunately, they are handled on a superficial level. But I don’t mind. Dogs of War is a book to be enjoyed as pulp fiction. And sometimes, I wonder if there needs to be that deep dive into the philosophy of such human perplexities. Is it enough for a book to put the questions out there to make readers consider the issue and let us form our own opinion? Then again, Dogs of War doesn’t allow us to do that. Instead, it clearly thinks using bioforms as mindless obedient soldiers is wrong. While I agree with it, I would have loved to see contradicting views played out stronger—a debate. But I think that would have made the book too heavy and robbed away the gripping storytelling through Rex’s confused voice.

As you see, I enjoyed the book a lot. It is a sad, sad story with an excellent teller. Who doesn’t love a good doggie?

Thank you for reading! Have a great day ❤

1 comment on “Book Review: Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

  1. Pingback: Not the Friday Five: The No Clever Title Edition – Peat Long's Blog

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