Books
The Ember War – Richard Fox

Yet another military SciFi with a decimated Earth at stake … you’d think that I’d get tired of them wouldn’t you, but I shall persevere!  Don’t worry, I won’t give up in this struggle and will eventually learn all of the different ways we’re fated to die, be it at the hands of lethal aliens, lethal viruses, lethal cataclysm’s of nature or a mix of all three!!  I do it all for you … 🙂

The Ember War was actually really good – it took an interesting twist right from the start and in this case the threat of global extinction was not exaggerated as I think I can tell you without ruining the story in any way that billions of humans’ die in this book.  It’s written really well and aside from one section of the book that seemed to be missing a page (didn’t ruin the story), had no major editing errors that I could see.  Battles were extremely well written and you felt yourself to be absolutely involved in them – both the marine combat missions on Earth and in space & also the ship to ship combat scattered throughout the book.

What is it about?

In the not too distant future an alien probe lands on Earth with a warning for Humanity.  This probe is not just a machine but has a very sophisticated AI, one that allows it to decide what it should do in pursuit of its mission.  Earth it seems is in the cross hairs of an alien invasion – one that has decimated civilizations throughout the Galaxy and they only have a limited time before this swarm attacks.  Choosing to reveal itself to a struggling student – one that has the hallmark of genius however – might be the solution to saving at least a small fraction of Humanity from the coming onslaught.  It’s the only hope that we have and its a very slim one at that!

What I liked and didn’t like

The aliens themselves are extremely scary … the way in which they act is very reminiscent of Von Neumann’s War (reviewed on this site) & also the film The Darkest Hour as well the 2nd and 3rd Matrix movies.  Having machines attack with no attempt at negotiation … well suffice it to say the drones and their seeming invulnerability definitely conjure up the appropriate feelings of dread!

I loved the sequences with the armored forces & the literal hand-to-tentacle combat both on the ship and the surface.  The action was absolutely fast and furious and it didn’t let up throughout the book … I won’t give too much away in terms of details but I loved Marc Ibarra both as a down on his luck twenty-something and as an irascible Empire building Old Man.  He was a fun and funny character:

“I’d heard rumors, but this is incredible,” Valdar said.

“We’ve kept this classified for as long as we can,” Garret said.  “Some of the civilians are already trying to worship the Crucible, calling the Xaros decimation the rapture and claiming the probe here is a prophet.”

“The send the nicest letters,” Ibarra said.

What didn’t work for me?  Not much really … I think perhaps the fact that it seemed Earth rolled over so quickly in their defense while this much smaller fleet was able to fight back against the Xaros (albeit with some fairly massive casualties) was perhaps a bit concerning, however given the timeframe in question its quite possible that Earth was initially able to defeat their first onslaught but was eventually overrun in their second or third attempt.  I did think that some of the characters were perhaps a bit forced … especially the romantic elements as they not only didn’t contribute to the story at all, they felt almost like they were shoehorned in just so that you could put a checkmark into a box.

Aside from my small gripes though … this book was a winner for me.  It was interesting and had some memorable characters that I’d love to know more about.  There are many mysteries that I’m very curious to see resolved & I quite liked the implications for where this series is heading.  Looking forward to reading more!

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I'm a geek! I love all things SciFi and Fantasy and have done since I first read LOTR as a kid. Escapism to fantastic worlds filled with weird and wonderful creatures initially for me was via books and comics, but with the recent surge in popularity of this fare in film and television also - I'm in a state of bliss! As the editor of Zone Six, I've been lucky to meet some other awesome authors and writers that share this love and passion. The great Ray Bradbury said - "Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn't exist yet, but soon will .. it will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again."

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