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Top Customer Reviews
The Black ships 3*
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Generally one can read a book in a "series" and get the sense of whether or not you'll enjoy the series and the writing. That is NOT the case in this collection (note I stop using the word series from here on out). While some characters survive from book to book, the books are wildly different as the author moves from various aspects one finds in the genre to include vastly different aspects in the next. He also casually kills off characters when their continuance might prove inconvenient. That said his writing is consistent book to book and in some ways tightens up in later work.
I struggle to accurately rate the collection because I would NOT have purchased some members of the collection had their theme been revealed. Some of the low ratings above reflect my displeasure in what I view as some degree of a bait and switch. While I am generally reluctant to include spoilers in a review, I am at loss to explain the divergence between the plot line without them.
***************** SPOILERS FOLLOW ********************
Book 1 - All in all a pretty good opening story. The author is forced to introduce a "miracle" find of an ancient crashed alien ship from a prior hostile visit to inject technology to allow a human victory. There is endless soul searching by people about the appropriateness of a hostile response after it's clear that the aliens intentionally destroyed the human Mars base. Quite pointless. Security surrounding the effort to create a fleet is poorly handled only as a plot device and is utterly unrealistic. It's not that such things don't happen, but they don't happen at facilities like operational SAC bases and they certainly would not happen at the ship yards building that fleet. Still as I said it is not a bad book and while it drags at times the author does a pretty good job.
Book 2 - Space vikings join humanity. Seriously? The space vikings series while a pretty light weight mindless read has its place in the genre. To introduce it into this series is a pretty strong slap in the reader's face. Norse gods are not just aliens, but their duplicity results in Odin hiding out on earth for thousands of years? A culture that exists to raid weaker worlds every few millennia or so willingly joins in the aid of humans to fight a common enemy? Yeah right. Then the author introduces a ship of such immense power that it's capable of simultaneously transporting 30 million people to safety. It starts out hostile but the protagonist talks it into helping. Then we find out that there is one of these babies close to every known populated world. Yeah that suspension of disbelief thingy just shattered into a bazillion pieces. There is a plot item here that becomes important in book three. The aliens mount a massive offensive to defeat earth and bring with them weapons whose sole purpose is to eliminate all life on the planet and render it uninhabitable for centuries. Get it? Total extermination. The humans win and capture these weapons.
The novellas: It is not often that I feel completely ripped off by an author, but these felt like out right theft. Perhaps every SF author wants to write their version of the "Zombi Apocalypse" and that's fine if they sell it as such. The author needed to set up a way for short lived humans to interbreed and culturally merge with the Midgaard who live thousands of years and needed to gut the ability of earth to support an interstellar war. Simple solution is to have a mad scientist reverse engineer the longevity of the Midgaard, create a virus, in his arrogance make mistakes that unleashes it on Earth, create zombies that destroy somewhere around 99% of humanity, then have a risky cure that grants a life span of thousands of years. The author gets to write his Zombi story and set up his next book. Other problems: The vaccine is never perfected. A century an a half later all they have is a test to tell if it will turn you into a Zombi instead of curing you. For their length the novellas are far more expensive than the main books. There is a bit of an arm twist to get the reader to buy these that could have been more honestly handled. A synopsis in the next book with these offered as the detailed story line for those who want to read a Zombi story.
As Zombi stories go these are not badly written and had I wanted to read one I would have scored them higher, but as presented and with the price (should have been a single book priced at 99 cents) they get the rating they got.
Book 3: Earth a shambles (but slowly recovering) and the human fleet unsupported trying to gather infrastructure to pursue its efforts to win an interstellar war. This provides the author the opportunity to expound on matters economic and political. All in all not a bad book in some ways but again plot holes abound. The super ship comes to Earth to ensure that the super ship hiding in Jupiter doesn't get disappointed and wipe out humanity and reseed the planet. It and its trio of characters arrive to find humanity scattered still suffering from the aftermath of the plague. After a bit of information exchange it leaves on other business. Later we find out that that ship could have simultaneously gathered ALL uninfected humans from all over the globe and transported them to a place where they could have been saved. Why did it not do so? As I said plot holes abound. So humanity frees some planets and gets some support and begins to make headway. Eventually the fleet goes to the alien home world bringing with it the planet destroying weapons seized when they successfully defended Earth in book 2. However they allow themselves to be persuaded NOT to use them. Seriously? I mean come on. These alien have subjugated hundreds (thousands?) of planets. They believe that they are destined to rule all other races by divine right and humanity makes an uneasy and acknowledged imperfect peace with this scum? Yeah there goes that suspension of disbelief again. Why? Simple the author wants to keep this universe around for future books and if the aliens are killed off he loses most of his context.
Book 4: While in some ways the weakest of the four books, it has merit not found in the others. Set 150 years after book 1 the protagonist is a terrorist who attempted to blow up the defensive fleet in the first book and successfully destroyed the united nations and killed thousands of innocent bystanders. Eventually captured in book one and sentenced to work out the rest of his life, he apparently survives the plague, receives the vaccine, and now is used as a agent of the alliance to disrupt worlds under alien control so that they rebel and join the alliance. If we set the preposterousness of that aside this book is not bad. It has the merit of standing largely on it's own. Provide that we overlook the repeated pounding on various economic straw men and other issues it's a fairly good read that moves well. The only fly in the ointment is the author introduces precognition. The problem with precognition is that there are certain classes of mistakes that the protagonist can't make if he/she has this ability. As a result this very tough concept to make work and the author's handling of this ability changes subtly throughout the story as these plot issues arise. However it's a noble effort and the author makes every effort to avoid being heavy handed.
So would I recommend these books to someone? - Perhaps. The author writes well. The books have few errors of grammar or spelling. They are easy reads and each is entertaining in its own right. I would suggest that the author should provide a much more in depth description of the plot line for each book so that a reader know what flavor of the genre they are buying BEFORE they pay.
Building a fleet would entail spending but also jobs, purchasing materials, shipping, etc. With a worldwide effort likely more people would have jobs and be working harder at them. Not the right-wing mythology that any little stress and EU economies would fall apart because they care for their citizens better than crony capitalism does in the US and 3rd world countries. Really, Swiss Insurers are going to stop paying for necessary eye surgery or the surgeons are going to stop working because the Swiss agree to pay their share based on GDP of protecting the world? Or France will be forced to drop national healthcare causing riots for the same reason? Thus requiring the UN to intercede in France using Swiss and Canadian troops? Who shoot unarmed civilians provoking anti-UN conspirators in the US?
This is probably why SciFi authors typically write about planets far far away or small post-apocalyptic survivors.
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