John G. Hemry
Burden of Proof
Burden of Proof|
Editor: John G. Hemry
John Hemry first forced himself to my attention in the pages of Analog Magazine. I'd read several of his stories before, but his novelette "Generation Gap" made me think, "I need to keep an eye out for this guy." I then ran across his "Sergeant Stark" books, and realized that not only could Hemry tell a story, but he was very knowledgeable about the military.
Then I saw Burden of Proof. I recognized Hemry's name, but curious, the book didn't look to be SF. Then I noticed the "Ace" logo. So I got it. And I am glad! Somehow I missed the first book of what has come to be called "JAG in space" A Just Determination, but now I am hooked on the "adventures" of Paul Sinclair, lieutenant, j.g. in the U.S Space Navy. I say "adventures" in quotes because this isn't really an adventure story. It is a thoughtful, well-drawn story of what the Navy of the late 21st century may well be. This book reminds me of the best of Heinlein's juveniles. It is obviously aimed at the young adult market, from both the prose within, and a comment by the author. The prose is crisp and clean, with no written-out profanities or obscenities. So for ME, it was a great pleasure to read. Mr. Hemry has made the comment that if he wanted "true to life" Naval dialogue he would have worn the letters off of the "f" and "s" keys. If I wanted "true to life" dialogue, I'd stick my head in a sewer or spend time at a junior high school.
The story starts out with the U.S.S Michaelson doing a test-run in near-Earth space, when the test is interrupted by "Greenspace". A comment has been made about the unlikeliness of Greenpeace in space as there are no little animals to be harmed, nor environment (to speak of). Hemry is correct though. The purpose and "raison d'etre" of outfits like Greenspace would be to try to get the military out of space. Yeah, like that's gonna happen. Assuming we get there at all..
Anyway, Sinclair is the ship's legal officer, due to the fact that he was foolish enough to take ONE class in Space Law at the academy, and this involves him in all the legal problems that take place onboard. The story moves along at a pleasant clip and we are introduced to the ship, the characters, and a new lieutenant. Steven Silver, who kind of coasted through the academy due to his Admiral-Daddy's influence. Nice guy. Read a lot of Dale Carnegie, but seems to be an imcompetent sluff-off. "Watson, the game's afoot!" Hemry shows a detailed knowledge of courtroom procedure, and creates a realistic life aboard a Navy ship just prior to the 22nd century. And the shipboard explosions, and the sudden death and heroic efforts to save the ship are really well done.
If you want more information about the plot, and what happens, there are other reviews that will give you a somewhat dry overview. I say, read the book and be surprised by the plot twists. A well plotted and well written story. I'm now looking for Book One A Just Determination and then I'll be pleased to see more of Lieutenant Sinclair.