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A Call to Arms: (#1) (The Damned) Hardcover – March 27, 1991

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Product Details

  • Series: The Damned
  • Hardcover: 341 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1st edition (March 27, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345358554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345358554
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Subtitled Book One of the Damned , Foster's ( Glory Lane ) latest novel never achieves credibility. The projectively telepathic race of Ampliturs has conceived of a Purpose, which will be revealed when all the sapient races of the galaxy are united. Using either logic, subversion or, reluctantly, force, they have recruited each new race they have encountered, then used mental persuasion and genetic engineering to turn those races into allies. The Weave, a coalition of peoples that do not want to be assimilated, has been fighting them for centuries when a Weave exploratory ship stumbles across the Earth. Humans are just beginning to learn to be peaceful; how will they react to a request by aliens to fight other aliens? In order to credit this scenario, readers must accept a very skewed future universe: of all the planets with intelligent life, only Earth is tectonically active, with violent weather and more than one land mass; only humans have more than one language, fight within their own species and are, for some reason, immune to the Amplitur telepathy. The writing is crisp, but cannot make up for the burden these contrivances place on the story.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- This promising new series depicts galactic warfare on a grand scale, encompassing untold numbers of races and worlds on both sides, and lasting hundreds of years. The Amplitur, a telepathically manipulative race, attempts to convert to its nebulous purpose all sentient life through the use of persuasion, threats, and genetic manipulation. The Weave, a not-always harmonious coalition of races, has taken up arms in an attempt to pursue its own destinies. Because of the basic aggressive nature of Earthlings, the Weave recruit individuals to use as warriors in their battle against the Amplitur. Will Dulac, New Orleans composer and teacher, is the first. As in Nor Crystal Tears (1985) and Midworld (1987, both Ballantine), Foster has created a believable universe and peopled it with exotic races and memorable characters. A readable, well-crafted science-fiction adventure.
- John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Alan Dean Foster's work to date includes excursions into hard science-fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western, historical, and contemporary fiction. He has also written numerous non-fiction articles on film, science, and scuba diving, as well as having produced the novel versions of many films, including such well-known productions as "Star Wars", the first three "Alien" films, "Alien Nation", and "The Chronicles of Riddick". Other works include scripts for talking records, radio, computer games, and the story for the first "Star Trek" movie. His novel "Shadowkeep" was the first ever book adapation of an original computer game. In addition to publication in English his work has been translated into more than fifty languages and has won awards in Spain and Russia. His novel "Cyber Way" won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990, the first work of science-fiction ever to do so.

Foster's sometimes humorous, occasionally poignant, but always entertaining short fiction has appeared in all the major SF magazines as well as in original anthologies and several "Best of the Year" compendiums. His published oeuvre includes more than 100 books.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I recommend that you read it and discover for yourself.
Derek A. Wade
I enjoyed the first book of this series enough that I'm going to pick up the next one.
James C. Poland
If you enjoy a good story in a science fiction setting, give this a try.
Henry Cate III

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By William E. Clark Jr. on May 25, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked this book up off of a desk somewhere during a former job. It was late, I was bored and the cover looked interesting. The book was a bit slow to start, but interesting once the pace increased. I found myself disappointed when I reached the last page because the job's library didn't have books two or three.

What I liked:

The characters were engaging:

The Weave aliens behaved in an unexpected...but entirely understandable way to their new "Allies" the Humans. The "Bad Guys" in many ways mimic many of the loathesome qualities of many fictitious, and real life, antagonisitic forces all the while giving the overall impression of being beneficent.

The struggle was believable and understandable:

The "Bad Guys" seek to assimilate and redirect every species they encounter to the "Purpose". This is a common theme for a reason; humans are, by and large, fiercely individualistic. The Borg, the "Body Snatchers", Vampires, Zombies all have the underlying, if not primary, purpose of "Making you one of Them".

Humans were not portrayed as weak or inferior:

Though not superior in any given area, other than warfare and ferocity, humans were considered better than all of the allied and enemy races in that humans were exceptional, even the aged humans, in all of the desired areas (strength, reaction speed, endurance, eye sight, hearing etc). It was refreshing to not read about "Puny Humans".

What I did not like:

The Main Character:

Though this may seem like a fatal flaw, it really isn't. What I didn't like about the Main character were his seemingly endless crys that humanity wants peace...even when the evidence of our blood thirstiness is staring him in the face.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Cliff Allred on April 19, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'll be honest. Some of the ideas in this book are silly, such as Earth being tectonically active alone among thousands of inhabited planets, like one reviewer already pointed out. Never mind how the aliens are completely ignorant of tectonics despite all of their other wonderful science.
The main reason I like the book is because it panders to biased view of humanity as princes among carbon-based lifeforms. I like the vision of humans being the strongest, fastest and most vicious species in the stars, and Foster did a good job of portraying the shock of the other races at this.
I see more and more flaws in the plot as the years go by, but I gave it four stars because it's kept me thinking about the subject for such a long time.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Rook on June 2, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A very good book, one of my all time favorites. Although, I somewhat disagree with Fosters recurrent theme of humanity's violent tendencies (presented a bit simplistic or naive in a way) it didn't keep me from enjoying this book. It is a great start to the series, and by far the best of the trilogy.
There is also a little twist in the first contact theory. Humans carry some advantages that aren't often represented in most scifi stories. I also enjoyed the switching between POVs during the initial encounters, judgments that are made about each side.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Taylor Rand on March 12, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Amplitur are a race of four-legged, tentacles-on-the-head telepaths that are out to get humanity and everything and everybody in the galaxy to serve the Purpose. They're locked in a centuries-long war with the Weave, a diverse coalition of free races who are opposed to being genetically re-engineered into leading Purpose-driven lives. Go figure.

Enter humanity. When the Weave's exploratory ships discover Earth, they're amazed at our violent tendencies and capabilities. You see, most of the Weave's races - and the Amplitur and the allies too, for that matter - are incapable of violence or just very bad at it. So lucky us - we can be their new foot soldiers.

Now, A Call To Arms isn't the first or the last to portray humans as having a small talent for war, but I think it has a fresh quality to it. The story is well-paced; it's a natural page-turner. There's little pseudo-scientific jargon. The author makes no attempt to introduce esoteric weapons or describe battle after battle. In fact, there's very little combat "stuff" until near the very end of the book.

So it's difficult to categorize the book. It isn't one of those military science fiction novels like Weber's Insurrection where you're dealing with extensive battle descriptions. It's far-better written than Ringo's A Hymn Before Battle which is another military-focused intergalactic war novel. It's little like the Kzin stories or Saberhagen's Berserker fiction. Hmmm...

How to determine if you'll like it? I don't know. I do think if you're seeking a novel containing plenty of combat with unique weapons lovingly described in detail, along with a battle every thirty pages or so, this is not it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Sutton on August 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the first of Foster's books that I have read. I enjoyed it very much. Foster does a great job of illustrating the hypocrisy of modern man through the eyes of aliens. I was really surprised to see the change that Will undergoes after Caldaq leaves Earth, this was certainly an interesting twist. One word of caution I would offer to those that are thinking of reading this book is that it does not really end. It just sort of stops. It is part of a three part series and it seems that in order to find any resolution, the whole series is required reading. However, I found the book entertaining enough to warrant the reading of the next book, and would have no problem recommending it to any science fiction fan.
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