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Reviewed by Tom Gauthier for Readers' Favorite
In his novel Golan, F.X. Holden takes us on a fast-paced, intricately detailed journey into a future with the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran. Built around conflicts between nations with deep histories of animosity, Holden delivers the action through the eyes of the warfighters and civilians caught up in political brinkmanship. The characters are engaging and real, drawn from all sides and services in the conflict. Futuristic weapons technology, based on a ten-year forward development projection, has very real roots in today’s military. We follow Amar Azaria, a Druze Israeli engineer caught in the melee in the Druze village of Buq’ata on the Golan Heights. She is joined by American 3rd Marine Gunny Jensen and his squad in a twist of fate that finds them fighting for their lives against Russian-backed Syrian invaders mingled with Druze nationalists. At sea, Iranian navy captain Hossein Rostami is carrying a nuclear weapon provided by North Korea to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nearing conflict with the surface fleet, Israeli submarine Gal, commanded by IDF navy captain Binyamin Ben-Zvi, also carries nuclear weapons. Neither Iran nor Israel has admitted to having these weapons, but events will put them all in harm's way in a dramatic confrontation of nuclear recklessness. A central character throughout the entire story is fighter pilot Karen O’Hare, call sign Bunny, who ends up “flying” remotely operated fighters in the battle against Syria and Russia over the Golan. She is accomplished, self-assured, and feisty to the max, as we know combat-blooded fighter pilots to be. Rounding out the high-tech world, back home in Washington, D.C., the newly appointed Director of Cyber Security, Tonya Dupré, applies her AI (artificial intelligence) programs to discern the startling truth about the imminent threat of Iran and Syria, backed by Russia, carrying out an All Domain Attack – cyber, space, air, land, and sea – against the state of Israel. Golan: This is the Future of War, crafted under the masterful hand of F.X. Holden, is a valid projection of the very possible outcome of what is happening today.
Take a couple of deep breaths before you open the first page of Golan because the dramatic pace will not allow for breathing. A future war wrapped in a spy thriller, this story has it all. Holden sets the scene ten years into the future with engaging characters deploying futuristic weapons in a conflict that can lead to nuclear war. It is not science fiction but a keenly accurate projection into the future of current technology and research, masterfully executed and entwined in human experiences, emotions, and personalities. Holden exceeds the prescience of Clancy and the micro-accurate battle action of WEB Griffen, matching the mystery writing of Berry as he weaves the lives of Americans, Israelis, Iranians, and Russians into a tapestry of future battle and potential global nuclear disaster. Characters like the agoraphobic Tonya Dupré and her brilliant grasp of applied Artificial Intelligence and cyberwarfare, and Karen “Bunny” O’Hare and her rebellious fighter pilot persona engaging in robotic warfare at a skill level unmatched to date. As Holden takes us from scenario to scenario through the eyes and emotions of warfighters of all stripes, American Marines and cyber-aviators, Israeli IDF fighters, Druze engineers, and Navy officers, Iranian Navy, Russian aviators, he drives an intense roller coaster ride of dramatic arcs that leaves us breathless. F. X. Holden’s Golan is an eerily realistic projection of the dangerous world we live in today, taken to its mad, mad world possibilities for human-induced disaster. As a writer, reviewer, and avid reader, I am a student of the best writers in Holden’s genre and have quickly and eagerly added him to my reading list. I strongly recommend you join me.