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Starfist: Firestorm

Authors: David Sherman and Dan Cragg
Publishers: Del Ray

Rating: **1/2

Starfist is a series of books that takes place in the future where Earth has gotten out into the galaxy and started colonizing after having gone through a major civil upheaval. The colonies have run into a heretofore unknown enemy so lovingly labeled the "Skinks". And when all else fails, you send in the best you have... You send in the Marines...

I should have started this review off with the biggest impression this book leaves me with. It makes me giggle. Yeap, you read that right. It makes me giggle like a school girl reading a juicy bit of gossip. I can't rightly call this military science fiction. It does have a lot of military, it does have science here and there, and yes, it IS fiction, putting the three terms together does not accurately describe the book. If I were to shelve this book, it'd probably be under Military Soap Opera. In Space. It doesn't fall into the category of Space Opera, or at least it does in the exact same way that "Army of Darkness" falls into the Horror category.

The story follows the grand adventures of newly field promoted Ensign Charlie Bass and the glorious, overworked, underpaid, high speed, low drag, up to specs, proud, good, and few Marines of the Confederations 34th Fleet Initial Strike Team or FIST for short. Bass and his merry band of highly disciplined band of two dimensional characters are fresh from a top secrit encounter of a new alien lifeform on the planet of Kingdom. They have, just in time to avoid a major inspection by the IG of the Marines, been thrust into the civil uprising on the planet Ravenette (where everyone has the most horrible southern accents available, and top this visual off with missing teeth and hillbillies cut and pasted out of a "Song of the South" marathon) to save the major supply depot there that's become the focal point in a galactic civil war.

The whole situation gets about as overblown as you can possibly get it with a Pump Up O' Plot bike pump. The book is absolutely stoked with massively iconic elements of a non coms nightmare, cut and pasted, and so tongue in cheek that it absolutely cannot be taken at all seriously. The situation apparently calls for a three star Army general, Jason Billie, who is written to be this morbid cross between Bill Clinton and Custer, who has been a staff officer his entire career, who's also demanded the opportunity to advance himself politically with a combat victory, thus jumping him to four stars and the position of Chief of Staff of the military. You have an entire officer chain of command (All Four Branches worth) that is an almost keystone clown parade that is every non coms cause for drinking. Cragg and Sherman also seem to believe that Everyone in this universe should swear, drink, and smoke cigars like marines do. By everyone, I include such notables as the presidents on both sides of the civil argument (you can't really call it a war, the whole thing is over in short order), the most civilized officers, the navy, the army, and four year old children are apparently taught swearing in kindergarden. Just reading it makes me giggle. Everyone's a marine in the making, even those that absolutely hate the idea of military service. Hippies and hillbillies and four star officers alike have the same language structure that seems to have come from some porch in the South and is causing the likes of Grant and Lee no small cause to groan and roll their eyes in whatever afterlife they're inhabiting.

The authors also stuck in things that would make grunts laugh. The second best cigar in the galaxy is a Clinton. The head Admiral of the Navy is a culinary and historical expert, who offers luncheons where he brings back things that people forgot how to make. There is a whole scene in the book where he serves the rest of the joint chiefs Macaroni, a long forgotten dish, and then actually goes off on a real historical background of the food. In reply to this, one of the other officers goes "I think this would go well with cheese.." *Giggles*

This book is almost a farce. It's light reading at best, something that makes honest grunts like me giggle reading it. I actually enjoyed this book, but that would be because it's so bad it's actually GOOD. Just don't take it seriously.
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February 2010

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