Sky Masters

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

This latest techno-thriller from the author of FLIGHT OF THE OLD DOG is as timely as the headlines. The U.S. has withdrawn from its bases in the Philippines, while the government of the islands falls into the hands of demagogues and power-hungry knaves. Moreover, a thoroughly plausible confrontation over the Spratly Islands leads to the tactical use of nuclear weapons by Chinese naval forces. In consequence, a disreputable Filipino politician joins forces with expansionist elements in the Chinese government to create a puppet regime.

The Chinese timetable for conquest, however, is upset by widespread Filipino resistance. The U.S. immediately dispatches air and naval forces into the area to monitor the situation. Combat ensues, and the American president determines that morally, strategically, and politically he has little choice but to engage in a limited military response.

A prototype “air battle force” is deployed to Guam. The air battle force is a composite tactical air wing composed of different types of aircraft and organized along mission-oriented lines. It is designed to be a relatively self-sufficient combined arms organization capable of action anywhere and represents the latest doctrinal innovation within the U.S. Air Force.

A frequent criticism lodged against works of this genre is that far too often the humanity of the characters is overwhelmed by the technology of the weapons utilized. Although Brown was reasonably successful in avoiding this pitfall in his earlier novels, such is not the case with SKY MASTERS. The reader is inundated with acronyms, technical specifications, and operational jargon which obscure the individuals described and the situations outlined.