Now I’ve only got a few bits and bobs left from Death Ray to put up, I’m starting to trawl through my old reviews for other places. I have, of course, done this before, but I’m going to be a little bit more organised about it from now on. This is from SFX #227.
THREE AND A HALF STARS
Author: Ian Douglas
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Battlestar Above and Beyond
Military SF is as American as testy insularity and fructose-induced obesity. There are moments in Earth Strike where you practically want to punch the air and shout “Hell yeah! America!” In a book about a multinational organisation, all the major characters are American, serving aboard a spaceship called America. But it is military SF; Douglas knows his market. Written to the best-seller beat of frequently repeated information, breathless infodumps and throttle-yanking action, Earth Strike at least has a pace that drags the reader along.
The plot is artfully straightforward: Mankind is approaching a Vingean singularity. An alien empire of extreme vintage and vast power would like us to stop, please. As nobody tells the Americans what to do, war begins.
Packed to the galactic gunwhales full of hard speculation on near-lightspeed combat, it’s superior to Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet and other war-stories that cover similar ground by dint of its crisp readability. The science is explained clearly and repeated often enough for all to grasp it – cool stuff, if implausible in parts. The characters and aliens fit into the usual slots – the aliens have lots of apostrophes, Admiral Koenig could only be played by Edward James Olmos – but it’s forgivable shorthand. And there is the exception of one of the lead characters, a technology-hating outsider, who adds a bit of freshness.
That old Republican lament about hard-working military types being undermined by politicians is front and centre, but again, military SF, isn’t it? Fun, fast-paced war.
Did you know?
Ex-serviceman Ian Douglas has written a shedload of books, including two 1980s Doctor Who titles.