But onto the story. John Scalzi is a joker, which I learned from following him on Twitter. Read the opening of Ghost Brigades and you'll see an example... let me say no more. It was a neat trick, well pulled off. So far, I can see that JS is staying true to the war-in-space genre of the first in the series, Old Man's War (see my last post), expertly imagining future technology, alien technology, interstellar genocidal warfare, and what that might do to the human (and other) people who get caught up in the military mincing machine. This last part, the human story, is the only reason I would read the whole thing. What happens to people who live and breathe the disciplined and controlled application of deadly violence?
The world we live in is over-militarised, and I grew up in a town neighbouring one in which 'squaddies', ordinary soldiers that is, are trained, barracked and sent out to do our government's bidding, to do their dirty work. And from the few times I met those young, beer-inclined, very physical men, I've wondered what chance they ever had of enjoying a normal human life, if there is such a thing. They're trained to be tough, ruthless and to obey their commanding officers. Civilians stay in their comforable homes and feel horrified at the innocents being bombed, sometimes at the expense of their own tax money; meanwhile, the frontline soldiers often feel that they're paying the price for those civilians' comfort. There's something screwed up here; perhaps you can enlighten me and tell me why one group of people are turned into killers while the rest of us rest easy and veg out in front of TV.
Governments maintain armies to keep hold of their status and economic position, not essentially to keep you and me in beer and Pringles. (Is this turning into a rant? I'll stop here.) So thankyou Mr Scalzi for making me think a little. If your series is intended, in part, to be a meditation on the present state of affairs, I'd better keep reading until the end of Book Three to appreciate the fulness of your thoughts.