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The Fall of the Republic (Chronoplane Wars Trilogy)
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This novel is set in the mid-1990's and the world is on the verge of collapse. Several nations have already descended into chaos and the US is now only months away from anarchy. The old nationalism no longer works. But the discovery of "Trainables" - a select portion of the teenager population who can be trained to read, comprehend, and remember vast amounts of data like a computer - staves off disaster for a little longer. The Trainables are placed in vital government jobs - security, analysis, etc. With these "human computers" in place, the government has a finger in the dyke.
The characters are interesting and believable. Jerry Pierce as the quiet, eminently resourceful CIA paramilitary field man. And his boss, Eric Wigner, is a treat to watch develop on the pages. I've never read a book about the CIA, but this character Wigner is precisely how I would imagine such a man to be. Wigner is ambitious, brilliant, and amoral. Wigner is out to save the world from itself - he believes the only way to do that is to let Trainables take over and abolish nationalism in favor of a one-world government. It turns out he's right too. And he uses every trick to accomplish his goal. People who get in his way he either goes around, blackmails, befriends and rewards, or even murders, using Pierce as his enforcer. I could forgive Wigner his sins because he is trying to save mankind from itself. And because he was right.
I would recommend this book to any sci-fi fan, and even those who are not. Kilian gets it done in this one.
Kilian's first novel in his "Chronoplane Wars" series was an entertaining book almost overstuffed with interesting ideas, and a prequel would seem to provide an opportunity to explore some of them in greater detail. Yet Kilian seems to approach this book with all of the enthusiasm of a high school student trying to complete his homework. Key developments such as the discovery of the chronoplanes are simply dumped into the plot, with details at odds with ones the first book and with their impact upon events more described than shown. The primary focus instead is on the conspiracy, yet even here Kilian does little to develop sympathy for his characters or suspense over the inevitable outcome. The result is a bloated disappointment, one that squanders the opportunity to develop the promise of his earlier work in the series.
"Fall of the Republic" is basically a poor book. It was published in 1998 and clearly suffers from the lack of an editor. The pace of the book is plodding and the quality of writing is substandard.
If Crawford finds a good editor who is willing to be critical, this book could be great in a revision. Right now it feels like a first draft and an embarrassment to "Empire of Time."