This is the Future of War (Future War)

Fiction - Military
444 Pages
Reviewed on 12/17/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tom Gauthier for Readers' Favorite

Pagasa: This is the Future of War centers on a race to control an island in the South China Sea. A billionaire with a vast armada of ships is hired by the American government to secretly deliver the materials and weapons needed to secure the island for the rightful owners, the Philippines. China is the aggressor, and the race is on to be the first to control the island. Author FX Holden is prescient in his projection of weapons technology, geopolitical events, and the future battlespace. This is a fast-paced, gripping novel that rings all too true. If you served in the military, fly a plane, or just want badly to do either one, grab your flight suit, helmet, your thrill meter and read Pagasa. F.X. Holden takes you on a hypersonic ride into a future conflict along vectors straight from today’s reality - a natural projection of technology and geopolitical conflict thrust into a real-world possibility in the future. This fast-paced, intricately detailed journey into a future conflict with China is built around age-old conflicts between nations surrounding the South China Sea, and Holden delivers the non-stop action through the eyes of warfighters and civilian combatants caught up in the covert maneuvering between the United States and China.

The story begins with the mysterious Sylvie Leclerc, Head of Operations, White Star Risk Group owned by billionaire Karl Sorensen, recruiting a rogue Australian ex-military, civilian pilot Karen “Bunny” O’Hare to fly the advanced aircraft that will be used to protect the White Star ships. The ships, contracted by the U.S. government, are carrying building supplies and weapons needed to secure Pagasa Island for defense by the owners, the Philippines. It’s a secret mission in direct conflict with an advancing Chinese military invasion. There are spies, subplots of survival, and the gripping aerial combat maneuvers of Bunny O’Hare and her unlikely sidekick, the Scotsman, Angus ‘Ginger’ McIntyre, faced off against Li Chen, the dynamic Chinese PLA pilot. The characters are real, the action non-stop, and the outcome always in doubt.

As a writer myself in this genre, I’ve said it before and I will restate it here that F.X. Holden is a master at delivering top-notch, rapid, breathtaking scenes that exceed the prescience of Tom Clancey, the micro-accurate battle action of WEB Griffen, the intrigue of Steve Berry, all wrapped in the closeup action of a Stephen Coonts thriller. Pagasa: This is the Future of War by F.X. Holden has earned my highest recommendation, if your thrill meter can record this level of action.

K.C. Finn

Pagasa: This is the Future of War is a work of fiction penned by FX Holden in the action, adventure, and military subgenres. It is best suited to the adult reading audience for its depictions and content, though it is not terribly graphic. As the title suggests, the reader is thrust into the action at Pagasa Island in the South China Sea, where China wants to move in and take control. On the island itself, Seabee Captain Heraldo Bezerra comes under attack, kicking off a chain of events that sees many characters interacting in different facets of the conflict, including a certain Karen 'Bunny' O'Hare as she takes to the skies in a bodyguard role.

I have never been disappointed by a work of FX Holden’s, and Pagasa is no exception to that trend. The action scenes were seamlessly blended into the ebb and flow of the plot, delivering quiet ‘calm before the storm’ exposition moments and then swooping us back into international action with style and flair. I always love seeing Bunny cross the pages, and in this novel, she really had some significant moments where you could see how far Holden has developed her character and how deeply layered she is these days. All of this makes you more and more invested in the different cast members that pop up in the story, and it’s always so interesting to read about a specific conflict from so many different authentic facets of it. Overall, I would certainly recommend Pagasa to fans of military fiction at its best.

Scott Cahan

Pagasa by FX Holden is a science fiction military drama set in the not too distant future. The tiny island of Pagasa in the South China Sea is the focus of this story. A simple incident involving a fishing boat offshore escalates into a full-scale invasion by China. The Americans take countermeasures to push China back and soon both sides are threatening an all-out war. The story plays out in several settings with a large cast of characters. Most interesting to me was the Australian female pilot who is brought in to fly a top-secret airplane called the Vapor. Her name is Bunny O’Hare and her plane is fitted with the most advanced weaponry and an A.I. that does amazing things. The story also includes a top Chinese pilot, some Filipino civilians caught in the crosshairs of the war, and the President of the United States along with his staff as they strategize on their next move.

The author of Pagasa, FX Holden, knows his stuff about military weaponry, strategizing, and war games in general. Fans of military dramas set in the future will find much to love in Pagasa. It’s intelligent, suspenseful, and at times, endearing. I personally got lost a few times in the descriptions of weapons and how they work, but I decided to score Pagasa based on how well it’s written for its intended audience. That is, for the readers I’ve already mentioned; fans of military sci-fi dramas. When I consider Pagasa from their perspective, it becomes a masterful work of art. For me, the unique appeal of this book is the variety of fascinating characters that the author employs to tell his story. I also loved the sheer suspense that builds throughout the story as the two sides reluctantly are drawn into more and more fighting. Pagasa is a perfect read for anyone who likes futuristic weaponry, descriptions of war, great characters, and a well-crafted plot.

Vincent Dublado

Pagasa by FX Holden is a brilliant addition to his Future War Series. The attention to facts and details is simply absorbing, with a diverse cast of characters that are well-identified in their national affiliations. The story takes place in the future year of 2034. China has succeeded in creating a fortified installation in the South China Sea. What used to be a reef has now become a Navy base. A Filipino fisherman, Bobong Huerta, is drawn to snagging a bountiful catch of crabs near the area. But the bow of a Chinese Coast Guard ship is like an ax that looms over Bobong and his crew, and it unhesitatingly slams into them. As China ignores diplomatic protests and continues to exert its dominance in territorial expansion and in the arms race, western efforts and new alliances have been pushed to come up with the last resort that no one ever hopes for.

If Tom Clancy was known for his expertise in high-tech, FX Holden will become known for his prophetic take on geopolitics. I doubt if there’s any other military novel that could ever depict a possible future scenario of what’s happening in the South China Sea right now. Here you will find characters making those crucial decisions that can prove costly in a factual setting—a typical scenario of military thrillers that Holden notches up as he shows the ramifications of such decisions. Many memorable characters here will not see the light of day, and this is part of the reality that could take place in a brewing future war. Pagasa is a strong possibility, one that we should read and pay attention to considering that a once sleeping dragon in the east is now making its incursion on territories and claiming these as its own.

Leonard William Smuts

The end of the Cold War eased global tensions, but not for long. The superpowers soon started to flex their military muscles and assert political dominance. Advanced weapons were developed for a conventional non-nuclear battle, based on futuristic technologies. The tiny and remote island of Pagasa (Pag-asa) is located in the South China Sea. While it is officially part of the nearby Philippines, China has long claimed territorial rights. It is against this background that the United States planned Operation Fencepost to upgrade the island's defenses against a possible takeover. To thwart this, China carries out an opportunistic raid to occupy the island and enlists pirates to halt the ships bringing in vital building and military material. In Pagasa, author FX Holden uses test pilot Karen O’Hare as the central character. She must fly an advanced aircraft in support of the shipping convoy in the face of deadly threats from multiple sources. The skirmish escalates into a potential full-blown war. Pagasa explores the array of new weaponry at the disposal of the combatants and paints a highly plausible scenario for global conflict.

In Pagasa, FX Holden provides insights into the high-tech world of weaponry and strategies which would characterize a future war. These include stealth technology, hypersonic missiles which travel further and faster, smart bombs, advanced radar, espionage, cyber-attacks, drones, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that pushes their effectiveness to new levels. He contrasts the American preference for unmanned drones with the Chinese practice of using manned aircraft with superior AI capability. Global politics is analyzed from both the American and Chinese perspectives. Karen O’Hare and her Chinese counterpart illustrate the growing importance of women in combat. The book is skillfully crafted and action-filled. The addition of a list of the many characters and their roles is most welcome. Maps and a detailed glossary complete the picture. While written as a work of fiction, Pagasa Island really exists and provides just one setting for a contrived dispute which, if unresolved, could lead to global warfare. It will be a war fought in a new political environment and with new weapons. An excellent book!