Keepers of The Peace – Keith Brooke (2001)
Brooke’s portrait of a future soldier is, in a sense, a bleak reflection of Haldeman’s ‘The Forever War’ although here, there is no alien enemy, just humans. Ironically, ‘aliens’ is what the people of Earth call the Peacekeeping Forces’; military forces recruited from off-world colonies and sent to Earth at the behest of the American Union, half of a USA which is now split following devastating climatic changes.
Jed Brindle is a black farmworker living and working with his family on an orbital settlement, Lejeune, although we first meet him on Earth where he is on an undercover military mission.
From this point on, we follow the fate of the mission while delving back in time to discover how he got to be the agent he is now.
Brooke sets the scenes perfectly and there is a touch of the ‘Starship Troopers’ in that we are treated to excerpts of propagandist news items and recruitment campaigns.
There is also a sense of enormous irony in the fact that what is presumably a colony settled by Americans is providing troops to carry out covert operations and deal with insurgencies in what was the USA.
In terms of plot, there isn’t a lot for the reader to be concerned with. This is a novel about one man and the people he affects from the time he gets drafted to the culmination of his mission. There are excerpts from reports from his commanding officer, and some notes from a female reporter who is doing a story on the call-up, which give objective views of of him as a contrast to his own diary notes and the narrative itself.
That is not to say that the novel lacks action. It doesn’t. There is plenty going on, and the pace is often quite intense, but these are events which are very much character led and add a far greater depth to the narrative.
Brookes’ great success with this is that we see one character throughout, a man who sometimes does terrible things, and yet one who is charming, loveable and capable of great tenderness, with facets of personality that all fit together into one human.