RogerBW's Blog

Andromeda's War, William C. Dietz 20 January 2019

2014 military science fiction, twelfth novel in the Legion of the Damned series (and last in the prequel sub-series). "McKee" is still hiding from the usurper Empress.

Much of this book feels like marking time. Sure, things happen, but our titular heroine spends her time fighting as part of the Foreign Legion rather than pursuing the goal of vengeance that, we were asked to believe in the first book of this sub-series, has informed her every decision since the usurpation. Of course she eventually gets to kill the Empress (that's not even a spoiler, it's the kind of series where anything else would be shocking), but it's none of her doing that they happen to end up on the same planet.

A potentially interesting NPC is introduced, then killed off before she can realise that potential. The resistance movement on Earth is casually wiped out. Fight fight fight on the same alien planet as last book, really stupid decision in hyperspace piloting, oh no the Empress has been captured by the enemy, we must go to rescue her even though we hate her because we are Good Soldiers.

The big enemy, the alien Hudathans, come over as a more naturally treacherous version of humanity rather than as anything particularly alien. The thing that struck me in this book, though, was that although the humans regard them as the bad guys, they aren't the Generic Evil that milsf enemies often are; they are simply pursuing their own goals by means that seems reasonable to them, and they're just as subject to the friction of large operations as everyone else. (And, alas, just as flavourless, as they're Generic Military first and people second.) Sure, they torture prisoners, but so do our heroes. If the book were rewritten to show the Hudathans as the good guys, the individual passages wouldn't need to be changed, there would just be more from their viewpoints.

It's all a bit dull. And when I am bored by a book I notice other things that are wrong. For example:

Avery had done a little bit of research so he knew that the LC 8654 (Light Cruiser) Victorious was more than two miles long. The ship could carry twelve fighters, twelve shuttles, and boasted a crew of a thousand men, women, and robots.

OK, my standard reference for a big warship is a Nimitz-class carrier. (Which, granted, is not spacegoing.) This one is nearly ten times as long, so assuming the proportions are the same about 900 times the volume – but has one-sixth the crew. If the ratio of livable space to total space is the same as aboard a Nimitz, each of them should have nearly the equivalent of an entire Nimitz to rattle around in. And yet there are still cramped cabins, presumably because cramped cabins are a thing that happens on military ships.

Oh, and the happy ending involves going off to live on a hardscrabble farm (literally) miles from anywhere. Yeah, call me when you get bored, kids. It won't take long.

Bah. This started reasonably well but devolved into generic faux-1970s military action with all the clichés. There are no interesting people here. After these three books I have absolutely no intention of reading the main series. Money and time saved!

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  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 05:32pm on 20 January 2019

    Real militaries pay attention to cabin space because it affects morale. The Queen Elizabeth class with its lean manning and heavy automation (which may or may not come back to haunt it) gives all ranks more cabin space. They are still not what civilians would consider spacious, but crew transferring in always comment on how large the bunk is compare to any they've had before.

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