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Three Against the Stars Paperback – November 26, 2012
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enjoyed "Three Against the Stars.
And is it any surprise? I'm an ex Marine and avid sci-fi fan. In "Three Against the Stars" you have the Devil Dogs of 7th Company, Marine Corps, Terran Expeditionary Force, duking it out against an evil empire of alien bad guys? Ah, seventh heaven.
In particular, we follow the exploits of Sergeants O'Hara, Cortez and Akira and their Felisian buddy, Makki as they "bring it" to the Drakonian bad guys and their sympathizers on a far distant planet where peace – it seems – is held together by the thin veneer of deception.
With great dialogue, fine humor, a fast pace, and plenty of action, this is sci-fi escapism at its best. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m sure you will too.
Three against the stars is the newest work from Joe Bonandonna. This time Joe tackles the far flung future and not the past. Three takes place in a universe where man has ascended to a state of interstellar faster than light travel and has alliances with many other races.
Our story centers on four space marines, sort of the three musketeers, with the fourth member being a cat man from the world our team finds themselves stationed on. O'hara a big brogue speaking Irishman is the team's defacto leader, Akira is a cigar chomping female, Cortez is the dashing, somewhat empty headed ladies' man and Maki is the cat man, and corps medic.
Our story takes place in several places at once including deep space far from our heroes. There is much mystery afoot in this universe. There are several different factions amping up their agenda's in this story, and only some of them play out by books end, so I can only assume there will be another volume coming sometime in the future.
Our team faces everything from bar fights to infiltrating enemy strong holds, as well as running about in ancient dilapidated starships. The marines may be the peacekeepers of the universe but they are far from the best supplied.
The main enemy in this book is the Drakonians. A race of lizard-men who share a fragile peace agreement with Earth and its allies. This is a book about not only the three space-marines but also about that peace agreement, and how fragile it really is.
There is civil war brewing amongst the cat people and has been for a very long time it seems, and it does not take much for that to boil over, leaving the three marines right in the midst of things.
All in all I liked this story. It was interesting and fun. It took place in space in the far future and that's one of my favorite genres. But that's not to say it didn't have a few problems, minor at worst, but enough to be annoying tome at least.
There seemed to me at least to be too many characters introduced just to be killed, and there were far too many characters in general to keep track of. At one point I was asking myself `Who's this now?"
Also, and I know this is a nitpick on my part, but with a name like "Three against the Stars." I really expected it to be the three of them (Or four counting their cat man buddy) for an extended period of time (Like most of the book) battling an enemy on some planet hopping quest or perhaps being hunted as fugitives by a corrupt gov't or something similar. It was very little of them being together and in the center of the action. Maybe the last fifth of the book.
Don't get me wrong I really liked the story, and very much enjoyed reading this adventure, but at times I felt it was a bit convoluted. The stories resolution left me a little empty as well, beyond that I'm not going to say much because I don't want to ruin it for anyone else reading it, and it is WELL worth reading.
In conclusion, if you enjoy space adventures with grand schemes and larger than life characters then pick up a copy, sit back and enjoy. It's a very good story with a few minor, easily overlooked flaws that most will not notice. Five out of five stars.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the development of the alien races. The two main alien species that are players in this story are generally humanoid, but are in one case of reptilian and in one case of feline descent. The feline characters are especially good since they are more or less human beings with fur and faces like lions, tigers, etc. As I was reading, it occurred to me that it was strange that I hadn't seen more characters like these in other works. The only thing that really came to mind was "ThunderCats" and perhaps a couple throwaway James T. Kirk conquests on "Star Trek." A feline looking alien race is a great, highly-visual narrative device that inherently suggests all sorts of plot possibilities. I hope that Bonadonna continues to explore these ideas and this universe.
The felines are in the midst of waging interstellar battle, and there is a nice scene early in the book at a slave colony that shows their evil nature. However, there is also a feline character who hangs out with the aforementioned "Three Musketeers." This character, Makki, is probably the most sympathetic character in the novel. He aspires to be accepted into the Marine corps, but his alien status is an obstacle to that goal. Makki does not harbor any resentment towards his unfair exclusion, and his actions in the final battle are the most heroic of any in the novel.
It's been too long since I've read a good science fiction romp which is gritty but doesn't take itself too seriously. You'll enjoy Bonadonna's efficient writing style. Characters can get killed off in a heartbeat, sometimes in mid-sentence, and Bonadonna is clever enough not to tip his hand that such actions are imminent. This technique keeps you on guard as a reader, and increases the overall intensity level of the book. The action is plentiful and professionally handled. "Three Against the Stars" is golden age Science-Fiction in every sense of the word!
For a similar work, check out Outpassage.