If you've seen the movie and liked it a lot, do not read this book. Go watch Aliens or some other silly "HUH-HUH BLOW 'EM UP WHOO" movie. Not Alien, that was good, but Aliens. Regardless, this book is not mindless entertainment for those who enjoy such pointless things.

I'm a huge fan of Heinlein in general, but this book is on the top of my list of favorites. Yes, it's got the standard elements of sci-fi with aliens and advanced technology and everything, but that isn't the point of this book. It's a deep socio-political commentary, on a similar level as 1984.

It's not a book for the weak-minded. Some of the commentary is overt, but much of it is hidden within the text. An overt example is that of some of the lecturing of Mr. Dubois, a teacher of protagonist Juan Rico.

In one such lecture he describes why there were so many criminals in the past, our now. He discusses juvenile delinquency using an allegory about raising pups. When one messes on the carpet, you scold it, rub its nose in it and spank it immediately. The scolding lets him know he's in trouble, rubbing his nose in it lets him know what he did that was the trouble, and the paddling is to insure he does not do it again. Our juvenile court system does not follow these principles due to considering such punishment inhumane.

He also discusses why punishment must be cruel and unusual. If it is not cruel, it is not a deterrent and serves no purpose. If it is not unusual, it loses its meaning. If a citizen is thrown in jail for no reason every seven weeks, he will possibly go mad, but any jail time for a crime will have no meaning.

My apologies, I've rambled. Good book, I highly recommend you read it. Even if you don't agree with some of the things said here, read it. He provides compelling arguments, and it's all couched in a decent story. It's not an amazing story, but it suits.

It may be a bit militaristic, glorifying the army, and many critics have said so. However, Heinlein was overtly against the draft and any form of conscription and that view is plainly shown.

This isn't one you should read and immediately make up your mind about. Read it slowly, re-read parts of it, then let it settle in for a while. Then sit down and think about it. You may be surprised at how much sense some of it makes.

Review by- Cap'n Commie


 
 

This is a sci-fi trilogy by a British astronomer who is now a full-time writer. They originally caught my eye with their simple, yet intriguing titles as well as cover art. I quickly fell in love with the books. Reynolds' writing style is unique. Each story takes place from several viewpoints, not just a few main characters'. The books are written in short sections from each viewpoint, with some piece of dialogue or information at the end that makes you so sad to be leaving that character, craving to know what's about to happen. The books are fast-paced with never a dull moment in them. There is no mild lull between the hook and the climax. Most books calm down for a bit before dragging you up to the top, but these don't. It's full speed all the way.

The technologies in these books are intense and amazing. There are the sci-fi standards: lasers, guns that fire other sub-atomic particles (such as bosons), spaceships, antimatter, etc. Reynolds throws in a few pieces of gold, though. I won't give all of it away, because it's so exciting to read about it, but there are some weapons that completely ignore the laws of physics by manipulating matter and energy on and below the quantum scale. One tiny taste of that are mines that simply cause matter to be. Everything we know says matter cannot be destroyed or created, but this is what occurs.

It's interesting that even though he does such intense fiddling with quantum reality, he holds fast to the convention that the speed of light is neither obtainable nor surpassable by things that are not light. While he's bringing in such controversial matters as string theory and brane cosmology, he maintains Einstein's assertion.

The story in these books is epic, with a group of intergalactic machines doing their absolute best to utterly annihilate mankind. If only we'd stuck to our one planet, we'd be ok. The reason for this is such a huge part of the story I won't go into more detail here. Humanity must piece together why they're doing this and more importantly, how to stop it from happening. They must rely on technologies gleaned from quantum computers in people's heads speaking from the future, artifacts left from wars centuries past, and clues left by races that have been extinct for millennia.

My only beef with the trilogy is that Reynolds' never lets up on the whole keeping you blazing along. Even at the very end, while he does tie up most of the main questions, he throws one more little wrench in. While occasionally it's just fine to give the readers something new to speculate about at the end of the book, it doesn't work here. There's no rest for the weary, and it is badly needed. This is definitely one time it should have been tied up neatly and sweetly and left that way, because the entire trilogy keeps you guessing.

Still, I would highly recommend these books. Just keep in mind that it may exhaust you. They were astoundingly amazing right up until the very end.

Reviewed by: Cap'n Commie