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When I took this out to the firing range, I thought it was gonna be a pretty good shooter. Not an RPG, but not a Daisy air rifle, either. Well, after the umpteenth cliché, I deemed it a dud and tossed it into the pile with the other WMDs in Iraq .

A first person narrative so the guy you know the best won't get whacked, this novel posits man's outer colonies have a monopoly on star travel and longevity. But they haven't abandoned Earth to its own incontinence just yet. Rather, they are promising the geriatrics new bodies and lives in exchange for their soldiering against hostile aliens. Evidently suitable planets for colonization already have an indigenous population and “we are not welcome”, so we are “an invading force” (Tor, ISBN 0765309408, c.2005, p.109). Whether this is satire or not, I don't know, but in either case it is ground napalmed before in Heinlein's Starship Troopers or Verhoeven's cinematic version, take your pick.

Our hero, John Perry, while traveling on the recruit ship and waiting for his army duties to begin, makes friends while eating lots and lots of good food. They call themselves the “Old Farts” (Ibid, p.60). Later, after they are hunked up with buff bodies, they do a lot of fucking, because all the women look like goddesses and the men like male models. The OFFs (Old Fuckin' Farts, now) have a real good time until the CO tells them three-quarters of the ranks will be sliced and diced by alien mandibles and served as entrees before the end of their indenture. But, what the hell, back on Earth, they'd all be “frail and old, dying a useless death,” whereas now their deaths will “keep humanity alive in our universe” (Ibid, p.108). E tu, Herr Goebbles ?

Then the OFFs are off to Beta Pyxis III for boot camp.

Now close your eyes. Picture a Marine Drill Sergeant. Can you hear him yelling at the new recruits? I'll bet he doesn't say “I'm just like all those drill instructors you've seen in the movies!” (Ibid, p.116). This is actually the author apologizing for this cliché moment because he cannot figure out a way to avoid it.

I'll counter with another: Just Say No and don't write it!

See why I quit just 14 pages later? Maybe you can face the next 186 pages (including the acknowledgement to Heinlein), but, for me, there's just too many other books to read and so little time before Alzheimer's or glaucoma comes in with guns ablazin'.

Actually, I should be reading more Heinlein. And, if someone out there survives a reading of this pea shooter and it does turn out to be satire, especially of the current Youth/Celebrity Culture/Cult that is Claymoring the American Dream like it was the Sunnis, please email me, okay?

10/06/2005

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