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Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines) Paperback – January 28, 2014
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“Military science fiction is tricky because it either intends to lampoon the military industrial complex or paints it in such a way that you must really have to love guns to enjoy the work. Terms of Enlistment walks that fine line by showing a world where the military is one of the few viable options off a shattered Earth and intermixes it with a knowledge of military tactics and and weapons that doesn’t turn off the casual reader.” —Buzzfeed.com
“Much like Scalzi's Old Man's War and its sequels, Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure are combat-grade Military SF, and should come with an addiction warning.” —io9.com
About the Author
Marko Kloos is a novelist, freelance writer, and unpaid manservant to two small children. He is a graduate of the Viable Paradise SF/F Writers' Workshop.
Marko writes primarily science fiction and fantasy because he is a huge nerd and has been getting his genre fix at the library ever since he was old enough for his first library card. In the past, he has been a soldier, a bookseller, a freight dock worker, a tech support drone, and a corporate IT administrator.
A former native of Germany, Marko lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children. Their compound, Castle Frostbite, is patrolled by a roving pack of dachshunds.
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The aspect of Kloos’ writing that DOES stand out is the heart of the story (pun intended). Kloos writes very believable romantic characters in the form of Grayson and Halley. You can tell they care about each other and that is what makes you care about them as characters. Unfortunately that is something that is lacking from this book other than the love story. Aside from a decorated sergeant that Grayson becomes close with following a traumatic incident, we’re not made to truly care about any of the other characters. This is actually a big let down as a few of the supporting characters actually seemed interesting and worth exploring. Maybe Kloos goes into more detail in the following 5 books, but there are only 3 fleshed out full characters in this story.
While the story outline seems bored and tired and the characters fail to impress outside of the main characters, Kloos does pace the story and include enough excitement to make the story enjoyable to read. And when it comes down to it that’s really all I was looking for when I started this book. For that reason alone I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed myself enough that I will probably continue on to the next book in the series. This book does nothing to really advance the genre of sci-fi, nor does it make any interesting or unexpected turns in story or sci-fi cliché, but it is an entertaining and fun ride with the few characters that are actually fully fleshed out so far in the story.
The only thing I found seriously dissatisfying was the sketchy political context of renewed East-West Bloc terrestrial conflict, extending into interstellar planetary wars. We never see the development of such Blocs from the present time, and the barely sketched agreement not to fight a nuclear war on earth strains belief. There is also a loose end in the question of where urban rioters would obtain military-grade weapons and learn to use them. Perhaps that missing detail is a hook for further novels in the series.
Those things said, I'll watch for and read sequels in an ongoing series, if Marko Kloos writes one (which I hope he will).