wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

  • Mood:
  • Music:

Saving the world is not for the weak

Robert Buettner's Orphan's Destiny, the sequel to Orphanage, reads a lot like the first novel in many ways - a small force of heroes battles long odds to defeat an implacable, technologically superior alien enemy. In fact, the plot is reminiscent of a whole raft of combat SF and space opera novels all the way back to E.E. "Doc" Smith's Skylark DuQuesne, if not further. For those of you who tuned in late, the survivors of the Ganymede Expedition return to Earth as heroes, only to find that the armed forces are being stood down so that the shattered economies of Earth can be rebuilt with the money that otherwise would have been spent on maintaining a military that could defend Earth against the Slugs. Unfortunately, it turns out that the Slugs weren't just on Ganymede, and Jason Wander must assemble an outlaw band of suicide commandos to save the world. Good brain candy, but frankly the book reminds me more of John Ringo's Posleen tetralogy than it does the novels it's compared with most often in the blurbs, Starship Troopers and The Forever War. This may say more about the general illiteracy of blurb writers than anything else...anyway, Buettner has obviously spent a fair amount of time studying the social history of the American military, since his description of the rapid demobilization and the unwillingness of politicians to listen to the soldiers will be very familiar to anyone even vaguely familiar with the demobs after the three World Wars.

On the other hand, 1634: The Ram Rebellion by Eric Flint and Virginia DeMarce isn't so much about saving the world (from aliens) as it is about saving a world from the chaos and bloody-minded religious bigotry of the 17th century. This book is, of course, part of the "Ring of Fire" series, in which the small West Virginia town of Grantsville is dumped into Germany in the midst of the Thirty Years War. Adroit diplomacy as well as mechanic arts are required for this little sliver of America to survive, let alone prosper, and as this particular book shows, sometimes stuff just happens. Flint announces his distaste for the Great Man theory of history in the preface, and just as Tolstoy does with War and Peace, Flint uses this novel as an argument against it. Despite this, the book is a fun read while still being an account of an occasionally gory revolution by the peasants, villagers and upper nobility against the predatory barons and Reichsritter who did so much to keep Germany the collection of "pumpernickel principalities" it was, to use Churchill's wonderfully descriptive phrase, until Bismarck came along and pushed the Prussian Hohenzollerns into unifying the place. The "up-time" Americans of Grantsville do have their fingers in the pie, but by and large they're waging memetic warfare against the petty nobles and letting the armed villagers and peasantry deal with the difficult work of toppling the local tyrants while discovering the virtues of religious tolerance and unified, simplified government. Worth reading, but probably difficult going unless you've read 1632 and 1633 first, since the bulk of the book is drawn from legitimized fanfic originally published online in Baen Books' Grantsville Gazette.
Tags: books, history
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.