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Caliphate by Tom Kratman

Published by Baen Books

Cover art by Kurt Miller

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Demography is destiny. This is the central premise of Col. Thomas Kratman's latest science fiction novel, and in the best science fiction tradition everything is an extrapolation from it.

A century in the future, Europe is predominately Muslim, its Christian population rapidly dwindling under harsh exploitation. But the Muslims aren't doing so great with their new realm, for in typical Middle Eastern fashion they have let the infrastructure fall to ruin out of neglect. Garbage piles up in what was once the boulevards of great cities, and only a few wealthy people still have such things as automobiles.

On the western shores of the Atlantic, things aren't a whole lot better. The United States is now the ruler of an empire it neither wants nor can afford to get rid of, the legacy of a terrorist attack that made 9/11 look like some kids smashing windows and throwing firecrackers at the cat. Islam has been declared a pseudo-religion, a terrorist political movement that has no claim upon First Amendment protections. Not that the First Amendment has much meaning in these dark days where government censorship is as much a fact of life as ethnic cleansing of Muslim minorities in American possessions.

Lt. John Hamilton has seen the darkest of it, including having his beloved order fire onto her own position when it was overrun. When he is offered a position in the special services, he takes it as a way of getting away from the grind of pacification campaigns. But he's in for more than he bargained for.

Three scientists have turned traitor and are working for the Caliphate of Europe and North Africa, designing a virus to destroy America. To find them and destroy their works, Harrison must pose as a slave trader, a position that he loathes so heartily that he decides to go far beyond his mission to strike a blow of liberation. But in doing so, might he also endanger the very mission on which he was sent?

Review posed December 14, 2008

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