Nov 302011

Battle Earth by Nick S. Thomas

Battle Earth is the first of an epic new science fiction trilogy that tells of humanity’s desperate struggle to survive against an overwhelming alien invasion. A distress transmission from Mars research colony warns of an advanced and unknown enemy approaching the heavily populated lunar colony. An elite marine unit commanded by Major Mitch Taylor is dispatched to protect the beleaguered civilians. However, the attack is merely a prelude to a massive invasion of Earth. When the vast enemy mothership smashes through the Earth’s atmosphere and deploys in the Atlantic, the armed forces of Earth soon realise they are fighting for the very survival of the human race. As cities fall throughout the world, American and European forces rally together to make a stand as they battle an enemy unlike any they’ve ever encountered. Battle Earth is a futuristic sci-fi action adventure that chronicles vast bloody battles following humanity’s first reach into the stars.

My Rating:

Battle Earth is a very interesting tale. The first thing that struck me as bold and unique is the author’s take on the old “UK/US centric” trope that often plagues futuristic military sci-fi. Usually when aliens invade earth, one of those two countries is somehow responsible for the defense of the entire planet. Not here. When there’s an international crisis, there should be and is an international response. And what a response this was. Hard, fast-paced action. Just enough gore to make the scenes feel authentic without overdoing it. Believable characters and dialogue. Great ending. And interestingly, the entire story reminded me of a wonderful strategy game series of the same genre — X-COM. Aliens crash landing in the ocean. Multiple bases established around the world. Similar weaponry and tactics. But this story was done so well I felt it was a proper tribute rather than some cheap fan fiction ripoff. So well done, Mr. Thomas on a fine piece of fiction.

Nov 132011

The Belt Loop (Book 1) by Robert B. Jones

Captain Uri Haad is plunged into one of the most terrifying voyages of his Colonial Navy career. His ship, the CNS Corpus Christi, stumbles upon a derelict alien vessel out in the void of Orion’s Belt — The Belt Loop as it is known by the sailors of the Third Colonial Fleet out of Elber Prime. He launched a Search and Rescue mission to the hulking derelict after his scans detected surviving life forms. What started as a mission of mercy quickly turns into a nightmare of epic proportions and as the horror spreads to his ship and crew, Captain Haad must make life and death decisions to avoid his own destruction and possibly an interstellar war. This taut deep-space adventure bridges the gap between distant suns and gives us a glimpse into the workings of the Twenty-eighth Century Colonial Navy. Approximately 95,000 words.

My Rating

Space operas are meant to spark the imagination. They are meant to take the reader to places where in our lifetimes we will sadly never go. They must ooze drama, action, pleasure and pain. The Belt Loop by Robert Jones certainly does not disappoint. The action is steady and military (navy) aspect well researched. Once the story develops and you start to get to know each character – love them or hate them you really feel a part of the crew and truly a part of their investigation of the unknown derelict craft. Then once the meat  of the story begins (don’t want to give away spoilers), you are just simply immersed and there’s no turning back. I suppose the only thing that prevents me from giving this book 5 stars is – and it may just be a personal qualm – is the author occasionally abandons the narrator and almost takes on the role of the jester who makes little side jabs at characters or scenes. For example there was a catty exchange between two female officers where at the end the narrator throws in a ‘What, Gena? No invite to the slide show on the bridge? Aww, too bad, bitch.’  It feels slightly off-color and snarky and I saw it in places throughout the book. But that could be just me and my old-fashioned ways. So small gripes aside, I can only give this book praise. I hope to see more from this talented and hard-nosed author. Well done!