Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lines of Departure (Frontlines #2) by Marko Kloos

The book continues the story which started in the first part. Giant, practically indestructible aliens are attacking human colonies and work in the space navy is starting to become pretty dangerous. Humans are retreating towards Earth as colonies are destroyed. The living conditions on Earth, with its overcrowded welfare cities, are deteriorating. But humans are still using resources to fight against each other. The upper leadership of the Commonwealth Defense Corps seems insane (even the characters are noticing it...). As a possible trouble maker, the main character, Andrew Grayson, is sent to a barren base as a member of a pretty shabby force with unclear/secret instructions. There they are ordered to overtake the civilian production faculties and stores. As that could be considered an illegal order, a faction of the troops starts a mutiny. But that mutiny is slightly hampered as the aliens appear.
The plot on its own was engaging. The problem were the overly long, poorly written battle descriptions which took pages and pages to get through. Personally, I am not interested in the slightest in how the battle happens exactly. At places it seemed that every single shot was described in loving detail. There are some problems with believing this could be realistic also. I wonder what explains the extreme over population in the North America? There are supposed to be cities of tens of millions of people in extremely bad living conditions. Why would the birth rate would be so high under those conditions? On the other hand not a single child is shown in the book, and there are no special longevity methods mentioned, either. The technology also seems strange; apparently the humans not only have jump point technology to travel faster than light, but also rocket engines which are able to accelerate huge and heavy spaceships with several g:s for prolonged time. I wonder what the engines use as an energy source? And what functions as reaction mass? In spite of having all that technology, the military is using ordinary nuclear weapons against the aliens - knowing full well that simple nuclear weapons work pretty badly in a vacuum. And even I can think of several weapon technologies which could use nuclear devices better than just lobbing bombs at intruders (using a nuclear explosion to speed up shaped charges of something dense and heavy like depleted uranium) to extreme velocities? Single use lasers powered by nuclear explosion?
In spite of its faults the book was entertaining for the most part. I might pick up the next part if I saw it discounted somewhere. I really hope that it will have more focus on plot and less on boring battles.

315 pp.

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