Thursday, February 3, 2011

Peace Warrior by Stephen Hawk

Peace WarriorReviewed by Bob Five Thousand for The New Podler Review of Books

Ok, let me start this out with a bit of a disclaimer: I know practically nothing about Military SciFi. My one and only real exposure to the genre is Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. An argument could possibly be made for some of Catherine Asaro’s material, but that’s about it. Point being, I’m hardly an expert here. And with that, we’re off...

The book weighs in at 258 pages and is written in a simple, straight-forward manner. Making for a very quick read. It took me a grand total of around 8 hours to get through the whole thing.

The book is so simply written in fact, that if it wasn’t for the violent content, I’d recommend it as fairly easy reading for the pre-teen set. This isn’t a criticism by the way, merely an observation.

For those looking for a quick -n- dirty review, here it is: It’s not terrible. It’s a first novel from a guy who probably has no previous writing experience. If you take that into account going into it, then you can sit back and enjoy a fun read.

If you’re still with me at this point, I’ll dig into it a little more.

Briefly, the story takes place in the relatively distant future. After a long history of warfare, humanity has forsaken violence of any kind and for any reason. This is the state of affairs when the Minith arrive and enslave the people of Earth. The Earthlings find the main character, a soldier from some 600 years in the past, frozen in ice and revive him. It’s his job to free humanity from the tyranny of the alien invaders.

It’s definitely a bit on the amateurish side. You’ll find some grammatical errors as you read through it and there’s more than a few bits of awkwardly unnecessary dialog, for the sake of explaining things that shouldn’t really need explaining. The end is fairly predictable and the characters can be a bit clichĂ©.

There’s not a lot of depth given to most of the people in the story, but given the fact that the book is more about the war than the people, that might not be such a big deal.

The "Death Scene" (you’ll know it when you read it) is needlessly long, drawn out and graphic. It’s definitely out of place when compared to the relatively quick flow of the rest of the story.

The author’s description of death itself is actually really well done. It’s probably one of the most creative bits of the book.

I also liked how he handled the evolution of mankind as a species. The changes were minor, but nicely documented in the narrative and seemed reasonable for the amount of time that had passed.

If you’re reading the book for its military aspects, you (probably) won’t be disappointed. Or at least I wasn’t, speaking as someone with no military experience what-so-ever. The author is a former soldier himself and the battle scenes move along nicely without anything obviously impossible happening.

I have only one real complaint and I’ll admit right off that I’m being nit-picky here. I read a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’m a particularly big fan of the early pulp stuff, where the authors were really just making crap up that sounded cool, with almost no thought as to whether or not it made any real sense. I say this to illustrate that I’m very comfortable with the whole idea of “suspension of disbelief” for the sake of a good story.

Now on to my complaint. One of the central structures of the story is “Violent’s Prison”. It’s also one of the grammatical errors I mentioned earlier, but that’s sorta besides the point. :-)

This is where all of the folks are sent, who just can’t seem to learn how to live peacefully with their fellow humans. If you act with violence towards another human, you get sent to prison. All well and good so far. Except for one thing: The book beats you over the head repeatedly with the fact that violence is abhorred by the bulk of humanity. There is no army, no police force, no body of any kind that exists to enforce the law or protect the populace. People get physically ill at the thought of violence towards another person. There are no weapons at all, except those on display in museums. See where I’m going with this yet?

These people reject violence to the point where an alien can shoot a man’s family right in front of him and he won’t do anything about it (there actually is a scene where this happens).

So who is subduing the criminals and taking them to jail?

Well, there you have it. Overall, if you’ve got a couple of bucks to spare and you’re looking for some light reading, this wouldn’t be a bad choice. It won’t ever win any awards, but it’s fun. Which is good enough for me.

Peace Warrior is available in several formats, the links for which can be found on the author's website.

1 comment:

DED said...

disclaimer: I know practically nothing about Military SciFi. My one and only real exposure to the genre is Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers”. An argument could possibly be made for some of Catherine Asaro’s material, but that’s about it. Point being, I’m hardly an expert here.

But you've read a ton of sci-fi books so your "credentials" are valid. One need not be specialized when reviewing the sub-genres. Science fiction is a enough of a specialization when it comes to literature. You wouldn't seek out an arm dermatologist for a rash on your arm, you'd just go see a dermatologist.