Title: ARC Riders
Author: David Drake and Janet Morris
Stock standard in so many ways, ARC Riders left little to no impression on me. In fact, I doubt I could tell you much about the plot tomorrow. It's not that it was bad. It was just supremely "meh."
ARC Riders is time travel military science fiction, and it really, really wants you to know that this is the case. Frex, there's a metric tonne of milspeak all the time and every page is peppered with acryonyms and technobabble. To the point where I kind of just have to start skimming because it's that dense with nonsense.
So. Time travel. In some ways it's handled well. In others, it's eye roll worthy. But when is it not? They basically have to deal with their evil parallel timeline twins because they're... revision control specialists who keep timelines from being revised, but obviously this timeline has its own version of the revisionists... but their timeline is the good one and this is the bad one so.
Oh, and if you're a bad person and illegally revise history, they drop you in 50,000 BCE and let you live there... because that wouldn't ever raise legitimate questions in the long run. Like "why the fuck are there modern human remains found here that appear to be 52,000 years old?" Whevs.
There's a lot of action and shooting and completely forgettable characters. Except the analyst. I liked the analyst. Mostly because he was a utilitarian sociopath. I like utilitarian sociopaths. I think there was a lot of work done to make sure that the characters were varied and unique, but it just never stuck with me.
The pacing is also really weird and jerky. It seems like it's going slow one moment and then suddenly fast the next and there's no real sense of time. And not in the "we're time traveling" no sense of time. Then again, I was getting so bored I was probably missing things, as I was sometimes having trouble following what was going on.
One bit of weirdness: for some reason, Asians are regularly referred to as "Orientals." I think this is supposed to mark... a prejudice or something? But having a whole bunch of folks from the 26th Century refer to Asians as Orientals is a bit... jarring, to say the least. And it's not like this book was written a billion years ago. It was published in 1995. Didn't we figure out that wasn't cool by then?
Anyway, point is this book was really, really fleeting and mediocre. Unless you're looking for something to bore you or I don't know... keep you from thinking about things without being too stimulating, don't read it. There are better books out there.