Let me start off by telling you that I am biased when it comes to books like this. I think most if not all individuals who read for entertainment have their favorite genre. While they may enjoy dipping their toes into different categories of books, they feel most at home in the deep end of their favorite type. For me personally, that is fiction that involves outer space. When I find a good series about traversing the galaxy and all of the possibilities that go along with it, it gives me that warm fuzzy feeling. Consequently, I doubt I’m as hard on these categories of books as I would be regarding a horror, fantasy, thriller, or run of the mill fiction book.
That being said, I am also so very conflicted about this book.
I enjoyed reading the book. It has the alien species who can’t be reasoned with and the crusty captain with a discipline problem who saves the day. However the further I got into the book, the more I came to notice a familiar theme:
Lets see if this sounds familiar
- Humans becoming complacent after barely winning the last war
- Person in charge has cancer, but is eventually magically cured
- Greedy guy with connections (in this story it is the Vice President) sells military secrets allowing the bad guys to cut through earths defenses like butter
- Old as dirt spaceship about to be retired, but then the bad stuff starts happening and now its the only defense earth has.
Do you recognize the story? You shouldn’t have to think too hard. Let me see if I can help.
- Lets change the name of the bad aliens. Instead of the Swarm, lets call them Cylons
- Lets give the greedy guy who almost destroys our civilization a name. Oh, I know, how about Baltar!
- I don’t like the name Constitution, its too tacky. Hmm…you’re thinking Gallactica….I love it. Lets call the ship Battlestar Gallactica. Perfect!
Now the story should seem much more familiar. It shares many major similarities to Battlestar Galactica. There are changes, just not enough to cover up where the inspiration came from. For instance, it isn’t the President who has cancer, it is the Captain of the Constitution. Instead of the fighters being Viper Fighters as they were in Battlestar Gallactica, there a V-Wing fighters and X-25’s (maybe paying homage to Star Wars, where X-Wings, Y-Wings, A-Wings, B-Wings, and who knows what other wings were flying around out there.)
Did Mr. Webb commit plagiarism? Did he steal from Battlestar Gallactica? I think it’s a grey area. Back when J.K. Rowling was litigating an author for publishing an encyclopedia to the Harry Potter Series, Orson Scott Card of Ender’s Game fame had an interesting article on his blog about authors borrowing from each other. In it he talked about some of the possibilities that Rowling borrowed or possibly flat out stole character names and traits from some other authors and media. It’s an interesting read, and that’s all I am going to say on the matter.
***** END SPOILERS*****
So with that in mind, I’m going to take the book for the story it is, not who Nick Webb may or may not have borrowed from.
In all, I thought the book was well written. I enjoyed the space battles that often centered around the swarm (the bad aliens trying to annihilate humanity) being able to easily defend against what the newer ships threw at them, but when Captain Granger thinks outside the box, they begin showing some teeth to the aliens.
The stakes are high, tough decisions have to be made, and people are saved at the expense of others lives. Some people are shown to be cowards, and some rise to the challenge. Its what a space opera should be.
Then there’s the ending. Oh, how I hated the ending. If you don’t want to read spoilers then stop here, because I’m going to give away some of the ending.
Why can’t authors let the good guy die? Everything in the book led up to this one perfect moment, and Captain Granger should have gone out in a blaze of glory, but I guess it needed to be a trilogy and Granger couldn’t die. He should have. I would have closed the book and been completely content. But he didn’t. I hated it.
Honestly it should have been a Saving Private Ryan ending. Granger should have sent a message to Proctor saying “Earn This.” It would have been perfect.
Anyway, I like the book despite the flaws. It was a fun read, and I hope the sequel makes up for the dumpster fire of an ending. I’ll be reading it and keeping my fingers crossed.
Bottom Line: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but plagiarism is still the quickest way to lose all credibility