Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Orphan's Alliance - Robert Buettner


Orphan’s Alliance
Robert Buettner
Orbit

Science Fiction/Military

Note: This is the fourth in a series (ORPHANAGE, ORPHAN’S DESTINY, ORPHAN’S JOURNEY) so the background details will inevitably ‘spoil’ parts of the plots of the previous books. Readers will find it easy to jump into the story at this point, but the first three novels are well worth reading.


Decades after the beginning of what would be known as the Slug War, mankind discovered waypoints in space that would allow faster-than-light travel. Through those waypoints lie inhabitable planets. Planets seeded with humans nearly 30,000 years ago by the Slugs. Human society on each planet evolved separately, none knowing about the others. The most advanced society knows little of aviation; not yet imagining space travel.

One of those planets, Tressan, is embroiled in a bitter war. General Jason Wander arrived as a military advisor to Audace Planck, leader of one faction. The aim is to create a lasting peace on the planet in order to strengthen humanity as a whole. We’re going to need to stand together against the Slugs. And the pivot point is going to be a little moon called Mousetrap. It sits at a junction in space, near several waypoints. Whoever controls Mousetrap controls travel into our area of the universe.

Jason’s godson, Jude Metzger, the first human born in space, is a pilot with exceptionally fast reflexes and an ongoing battle with depression. He’s along for the ride on this mission. Partly because the mission needs him, and partly because he needs the mission.

This installment begins quite near the end of the story, and then loops back a couple of years, allowing the reader to walk the road with Jason Wander. The author’s military background is used to great effect, giving even the most speculative of issues a ring of truth. In this near future, politics are still politics, even in this enlarged arena. The series so far has stretched over thirty years, with well-drawn characters aging and responding to events in a believable way. It’s rare to find military scifi that so skillfully blends realistic characters with fast-paced action and events.

Rating: 8
November 2008
ISBN# 978-0-316-00174-8 (paperback)

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