Before we get this under way, it is definitely worth warning you that I am not in any way a fan of either Hard or Military Sci-Fi. As far as I am concerned, they both tend to be overloaded with information that gets in the way of the story, instead of aiding it. I know that there are people out there who are highly interested in the intricacies of propulsion units and methodology as well as tactical data, but I am not one of those. I want the story itself and any information pertinent to that story or an understanding of its characters and the world they live in but anything more bores me. Please keep that in mind as it is something that highly flavors this review.
Way off in the far-flung future, people have begun colonizing the stars. One of those colonies, Bloodworld, was founded by a group whose desire to suffer for the sins of humanity found an ideal home on its brutal terrain. They’ve lived there for decades, alone and isolated and content with both. However, a war-bound race of aliens, the Qesh, have found them. Not only is their own safety at stake, but the security of Earth and any other human colonies. Enter space marines and combat galore.
Let’s start off with the good things here: I very much enjoyed seeing war from the point of view of a Corpsman (the closest layman's term would be a field medic, but it would not be entirely accurate), someone whose primary concern is healing over harming. This alone tossed much of the over the top, “we kick ass” attitude out the window. And, Ian presents us with a much more likely view of humanity’s early forays into space: tentative and frightful. This is a future where humanity knows that they are outnumbered and outgunned by older, larger and more strategically powerful races in space and are doing everything they can to stay below the radar. The main character is well developed and there isn’t the usual good versus evil delineation so much as a concern for the people he is with.
All of these things are great. I loved the story itself. When I got to read it.
Unfortunately, most of the time was spent buried under paragraphs and piles of text dedicated to the history of Corpsmen. The changes in medical engineering. Every detail of how each specific bit of nano-technology worked. The operating principles of the weapons systems. Military tactics out the wasoo. Over 150 pages had passed before Bloodworld was reached it still took a bit of discussion of nano-flage and nano-grown encampments before much else occurred.
I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed the story at the heart of this novel, but I could not find it in myself to enjoy the novel as a whole.
Buy it here
Reviewed by Anton Cancre
Anton Cancre is one of those rotting, pus-filled thingies on the underside of humanity that your mother always warned you about. He has oozed symbolic word-farms onto the pages of Shroud, Sex and Murder and Necrotic Tissue magazines as well as THE GHOST IS THE MACHINE, a steampunk ghost anthology by Permuted Press, and continues to vomit his oh-so-astute literary opinions, random thoughts and nonsense at antoncancre.blogspot.com. No, he won't babysit your pet shoggoth this weekend. Stop asking.