Reading 12/1

“Halo: Cole Protocol”, Tobias S. Buckell (2008).

Set in the universe created for the Halo video game this piece of military science fiction does not require that the reader be familiar with that universe. It is already a well developed universe with its own rules and idioms. If one already knows that universe I’m sure the story would be all that much richer. For readers who aren’t but read a fair amount of space based science fiction or military science fiction this universe is pretty much so standard issue stuff and there’s always the wiki Halopedia if you need clarification. Authors such as Asimov, Heinlein, Bujold, Cherryh, Joel Shepherd or Weber came to mind as I was reading this book. In fact it  is an excellent action adventure in the military science fiction genre and combined with some information warfare elements as well, hey I can’t resist this kinda stuff. It is some of the best military fiction that I’ve encountered since the early books set in the Honor Harrington universe by David Weber I’m biased. I really like Tobias S. Buckell’s original work, so much so that this is barely holding me over until I get his latest work.

All sorts of folks/creature populate this book and its universe. Straight normal humans, genetically modified humans (Spartans – they rule, definitely not folks you want to mess with in a dark alley), and a number of alien species who are part of the Covenant. The humans in the story are in three basic camps. These are the United Nations Space Command servicemen and women (including the oh so very cool Spartans, Grey Team to be specific), Insurrectionists who are rebelling against the UNSC and other colonists exploiting the situation – not many of this last group but they are important. The aliens are all part of the The Covenant, I don’t know the Halo game so what that means was not immediately clear to me but, it quickly became apparent to me that this Covenant thingy is analogous to Deep Space Nine’s Dominion, one small deified group ruling over number of groups who are kept in obéissance by various means.

So what are they fighting over? Well the UNSC wants to protect Earth from alien invasion, the insurrectionists want freedom from Earth and the Covenant wants to wipe out all humans. Simple really. What makes this novel strong is that Buckell explains enough of the whys and wherefores involved for each group that there are almost no mystery about the actions taken by individuals and groups. There is exposition for each group or important character, sort of a brief “Why we fight” statement creating a story where the enemies aren’t inscrutable and the humans are not infallible. Adds a layer of complexity to the characters and makes it easier to enjoy all the butt kickin’ action, and this is Buckell there will be some serious butt kickin’ action, because you are able to comprehend all the motivations and forces involved.

Well anyway, as you can tell I quite enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to any one who likes the above mentioned authors, wants to read some good storytelling and be entertained. Who knows,  maybe I’ll go get some other ones in the series, I’ve never read anything by Eric Nylund. Enjoy.

*Spoilers here.

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