I have a pretty poor track record when it comes to humorous Sci-Fi books. It is not uncommon for me to get my hopes up by reading reviews that claim a book is hilarious only to be disappointed when I discover that the humor just doesn't resonate with me. In fact, I have been disappointed enough times that I usually steer clear of this sub genre, so I am glad that I took a chance on this one. Perhaps my past experiences kept my expectations low, but this book managed to not only keep me interested but it also had me laughing out loud at times. Kudos to Craig Alanson for finding a nice balance between serious sci-fi topics and irreverent humor that kept me interested for more than just the laughs.
Commander MIchael Everhart, aka Tin, isn't the first Hell Diver to be betrayed by the leadership aboard The Hive but he is determined to be the first to actually do something about it. His dive team has acquired an airship of their own, Deliverance, and they have also found strong evidence that X actually survived his fall back to Earth 10 years ago. Not only survived the fall, but apparently actually found a way to survive on the toxic surface for an extended period of time. Even if X is no longer alive the truth of what happened to him must be uncovered, so searching for that truth becomes the top priority for Tin and his team. Payback for Captain Jordan's betrayal will need to wait for the moment; however, his time will come...
Ten years have gone by and much has changed for the remnants of humanity that remain aboard The Hive. Leon Jordan is now the Captain and Tin has grown up to become the Commander of team Raptor. It is no surprise that he decided to follow in the footsteps of his father and X and become a Hell Diver since X's loss is still felt to this day. X may be gone, but he is not forgotten, and his final sacrifice has turned him into a role model that still gives people hope, which is in short supply. Captain Jordan has abandoned Captain Ash's belief that humanity would one day return to Earth and he is willing to do whatever it takes to convince the rest of the crew that the surface is forever lost. However, walking away from the dreams of so many people is bound to have consequences...
"We dive so humanity survives." That is the motto of the Hell Divers, who risk their lives to keep the final remnants of humanity alive. All remaining humans now live aboard massive airships that float above a storm covered, radioactive Earth, which has not been habitable for the last 250 years. These dated airships have only managed to stay in the air by regularly sending Hell Divers down to the planet below to scavenge the parts they need to keep their reactors running. Hell Divers, who have an average life expectancy of only 15 jumps, are composed of brave men and women willing to risk their lives by parachuting down through the storms to a toxic planet where they scavenge for items created in the past by a people they no longer understand.
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle teamed up to tell this apocalyptic tale in 1977, which was a time before such stories were a dime a dozen. This is a book composed of two distinct parts with the first half following various individuals as they go about their normal, and somewhat boring lives, as well as following an un-named comet across the eons as various cosmic events affect its path. The comet is eventually named Hamner-Brown upon discovery, and it quickly becomes known as "The Hammer" as TV coverage ramps up post discovery. The odds are a billion to one that it will hit Earth, but of course that would make for a boring book, so the second part of the book starts upon "Hammer Fall" and covers the impact this devastating event has to the planet as well as the characters from the first half.
I was intrigued by the premise of Partials right off the bat. The last bastion of humanity finds itself living on Long Island with a dwindling population and thus facing extinction. All humans still alive are infected with a virus known as RM that is passed on to newborn children, killing them all within 3 days of their birth. The last successful birth was 14 years ago and things are getting desperate. The school is being shut down due to a lack of students and the Hope Act is now in effect requiring every female 18 and above to be pregnant at all times; hoping beyond hope that a child will be born with a natural immunity to this deadly disease. And that is only half of the problem....
The time has finally come for humanity to make a last stand against the Phage and they plan to do it in an all or nothing attack that puts everything on the line. This is what Senior Captain Jackson Wolfe has wanted for a while now and the renegade captain is finally going to get his way, so why is he having second thoughts about the plan? It is a dream come true to have a powerful ally in this fight against the Phage but Wolfe knows all too wlel that if something is too good to be true then it probably is.
I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started this book as I was in a hurry and quickly selected what I thought was a fantasy book from my long list of pending reads. My expectations were initially satisfied as the book started with an assassin named Caine doing what assassins do and I started to get my bearings in this new fantasy world. However, upon completion of his mission Caine was suddenly transported back to a futuristic sci-fi world and I found myself being disappointed that this wasn't the fantasy tale I thought it was. Luckily though, Matthew Stover instead provided me with an interesting cross-genre story that successfully straddled two genres that I love and he won me over in the end with a compelling story.
There is nothing all that unique about Warship. The formula used here has been done before and many of the usual tropes are included: a grizzled captain with secret bottles of alcohol in his closet, dysfunctional leadership back home in command, an old ship that is about to be retired, and one last mission that puts the ship off in a part of space by itself where it comes across a serious threat to humanity. Despite all that, I must admit that Joshua Dalzelle does it all in a way that just works for me. This is solid old school "single ship against crazy odds" sci-fi and when it was all said and done I was eager for more of it
With the events that occurred at the end of book 2, The Shadow of Cincinnatus, the stage was set for an epic showdown between the Federation and the Outsiders. The Federation has stood for over 1,000 years but it is riddled with problems that may not have any answers. Emperor Marius remains dedicated to the ideals of the Federation and he has shown that he will do anything to protect it, but that very attitude is likely to be his undoing. Despite his failing state of mind, and the deep economic and social flaws that are fracturing the Federation, there is still one thing that can ultimately unite them - a fear of subjugation by aliens. Along come the Outsiders who are offering progressive economic and social changes that are attractive to many, but they have allied themselves with multiple alien races and that is a bridge too far. This book reveals once and for all which of humanities many flaws will ultimately dictate the winner in this epic fight for the future.