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The Army took David Drake from Duke Law School and sent him on a motorized tour of Viet Nam and Cambodia with the 11th Cav, the Blackhorse. He learned new skills, saw interesting sights, and met exotic people who hadn't run fast enough to get away.
Dave returned to become Chapel Hill's Assistant Town Attorney and to try to put his life back together through fiction making sense of his Army experiences.
Dave describes war from where he saw it: the loader's hatch of a tank in Cambodia. His military experience, combined with his formal education in history and Latin, has made him one of the foremost writers of realistic action SF and fantasy. His bestselling Hammer's Slammers series is credited with creating the genre of modern Military SF. He often wishes he had a less interesting background.
Dave lives with his family in rural North Carolina.
I loved this book from front to back! The way Drake describes in detail the workings of the Starliner and its crew is fantastic. Every world that is visited is a new treat. Drake goes so far as to detailing the color that street lights burn and the different way the local gunpowder behaves. Do yourself a favor and read this book!
The book is basically a series of unconnected vignettes that occur on a large spaceship. There is little consistency of characters or plot; even important characters (for example, the star-crossed young lovers) simply vanish from the plotline without any resolution of their story.
The hero doesn't really make sense. He's a traditional hero insofar as he's from a rough and impoverished background, trying to gain advancement for himself, and apparently irresistible to women. Unfortunately he just isn't believable. The hero's background is so deadly and scary that the mere look in his eyes will cow gangs of brutal thugs... but his day job is basically as a chirpy cruise director for first-class passengers on a luxury cruise liner. I find it difficult to visualize a hero so terrifying that criminal gangs flinch and flee from his glance, but who loves his day job smiling and simpering convincingly at pampered rich people.
Many of the most exciting bits of the story occur off-screen. We see the hero's little corner of the action, but unfortunately the author has made our hero peripheral to most of the exciting events occurring in this fictional universe. We've got invasion fleets, secret agents sneaking weapons onto spaceships for hijacking attempts, planet-wide political coups, and gigantic spaceliners hitting planets with the force of nuclear explosions... but we only hear about that stuff from news reports, because the hero isn't there for any of it!
There's a subplot with the hero coming to terms with his father's legacy, but it's not well developed. There's also a subplot with the hero developing feelings for women beyond screw-em-and-forget-em...Read more ›
This book always brings a smile to my face. It's the first Drake book I ever read, after hearing Dave criticize Kuttner for writing "Kill an alien, fu#* a blonde" stories, because that's essentially what this is. It's also a sort of first foray into space opera predating Drake's Lt. Leary series by many years. A good romp through a great hotel on jets!
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I like David Drake as an author and have enjoyed many of his books over the years. I will continue to read his books, but if I had read STARLINER first, I doubt that I would have given him another try.
Drake excels at action scenes, and with this book, close to 75% of it has passed before we get into any action. The first 75% of the book consists of mundane, boring details of being what is essentially a cruise director. The protagonist scurries back and forth taking care of his first class passengers, but able to bed a woman or disperse a mob with a single glance. None of what he does rings true, in my opinion. The protagonist was flat and shallow.
There is graphic sex, but extremely disjointed. In my opinion, an author can gloss over sex or make it graphic, but one or the other, not both. In this book, the protagonist casually, and without emotion, puts his fingers, for example, into a woman in a graphic description, but then leaves it at that. The rest of the act is left off. I got the feeling that he was merely checking the teeth of a prospective race horse.
Drake is a well-established author with many, many published works. I would think, therefore, that he would have access to proofreaders and editors. I wonder why he didn't make use of them. The editing for this book was frankly atrocious. There were shifts in POV without any sort of break, weird marks and letters scattered throughout the text, missing and incorrect punctuation, and scores of misspelled words and incorrect word usage. There is really no excuse for this, especially in a book written by an author in Drake's class.
I still consider myself a David Drake fan, but this book just didn't cut it.
Reading this book, you can tell it is an early example of David Drake's work. It is not one of his best writing efforts, but shows a lot of effort and possibility.
Like other reviewers I think his characters needed more fleshing out, and some more (make that a lot more) plot development. But on the other hand, if he wants to go back to this story-line in the future I will read it again. I am not a big fan of the Honor Harrington series, no matter how well they are written. This one has a lot more possibilities.
So David, bring it back.
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I enjoyed revisiting this early Drake story, but it appears to be a scan of a library book with no attempt to proofread the result. Impossible letter combinations will interrupt your concentration on every other page. Whoever produced this is not too bright.
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A little slow at some points, and the main character does a rather odd about face on hiding his background. Other than that, the biggest aggravation was the lack of proof reading. There were some pretty glaring errors where an incorrect word had been inserted, making the sentence make no sense. The novel definitely had the flavor of a 50's pulp novel. Entertaining, but not a "Wow" I want to read all of his stuff kind of entertaining.