Im still working through the pile of
free books from LoneStarCon 3, and this is one of the last. Its also one of the best
if you happen to like rock hard military SF. Ian Douglas is one pen name of the prolific
American writer William H. Keith, who started writing Doctor Who adventures for
the FASA games company, went on to write for their Battletech line and for Chivalry
and Sorcery, and has authored several series mainly in military fiction, and military
SF. Yes, he does have a military background. Im pretty sure that Ive read some
of his work before, but Im not sure under which name.
The novel takes a familiar approach in military SF, alternating between
two principal characters; one of the admirals so as to follow the overall strategy, and a
lowly lieutenant to take the reader into the forefront of battle. The lieutenant in
question is a fighter pilot, and its pretty obvious that the author, being a navy
man himself, has gone to considerable trouble to make the idea of aircraft carriers
in space actually work.
There was a lot to like here. The aliens are really alien, very weird and
their motives inscrutable. Why do they fear humanity? What do they mean by
transcendence? The idea of alien organisms that are not either plant or animal
but somewhere in between is a cool idea that Ive tried writing about myself (must
get around to finishing that story). I cant I entirely understood how everything
works in this version of the Universe, but the sheer level of detail certainly was
impressive. It is the first of a series, and Id be tempted to hunt down more, if it
wasnt for the sheer size of my books-to-read pile.
Note to publishers: I shouldnt have to look up Wikipedia to figure
out which is the book title, and which is the name of the series; it should be entirely
obvious on the cover.